Friday, October 31, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

The best sports legends have always been those that took their talent and developed it, day in and day out. Practice is what made them successful, and it's the same for top sales professionals. This story from sales trainer Dave Kahle is a perfect example.

"Having spent most of my adult life in Michigan, I have naturally grown to be a fan of the Detroit professional sports teams," says Kahle. "Basketball is my favorite, and I've been a Pistons fan since before the Bad Boys. As you may know, the Bad Boys were world champions for a couple of years in the 80's. Isaiah Thomas was the leader of the team. He was at the top of his game - most valuable player on the world championship team."

"During that time, he built a house in Detroit, and added an indoor basketball court. When asked about it by a local newspaper reporter, he replied that he often woke up in the middle of the night and used the basketball court to practice his free throws."

"Imagine that. The most valuable player of the world championship team practicing the most basic shot in the game in the middle of the night. Why would he do that? Probably because he was not a 100 percent free throw shooter. No matter how good he was, he knew there was room for improvement, and that he could become better yet."

"That belief, that you are not as good as you could be, that there is always room for improvement, is one of the marks of the best salespeople," says Kahle.

"The world is full of mediocre salespeople who don't care enough about their own performance to spend any time or money improving themselves. My own experience is that only one out of twenty salespeople has spent $25 of their own money on their own improvement in the last 12 months."

"While that certainly is an indictment of their lack of professionalism, it also represents an incredible opportunity for those who want to excel. Image how competent you could become, relative to your competitors, if you regularly spent time, money and effort improving your sales skills! What an opportunity!"

Vince Lombardi once said, "We will pursue perfection, knowing that we will never attain it. But in the striving for perfection, we will catch excellence." "The best salespeople continually pursue perfection, knowing that in the striving for it, they will catch excellence," says Kahle. "And excellence is rewarded by greater competence, greater confidence, and a more robust standard of living."

Dave Kahle is the President of the DaCo Corporation, specializing in helping business-to-business companies increase sales and develop their people. Learn more at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What to do When the Prospect Says YES and Then Does NOTHING

Getting a verbal commitment from a client is always exciting - things are moving forward! Well, not necessarily, says Bryan Neale, a consultant at Caskey Training in a recent blog post. "If you're a professional salesperson, you probably already know this," says Neale. "If you're new or struggling, here's the tip - It's nothing until it's something."

"Deals go bad," continues Neale. "Prospects lie. Things change. All of these events can change the verbal in a New York minute. So what should you do?"

1. Watch what they do, forget what they say: If someone gives you a verbal, take it at face value and keep your own emotions and expectations in check.

2. Drive the process: Once the verbal comes, it's your job to drive to an end. Share the crystal clear steps: i.e., Thanks, Joe. Here is a document that outlines specifically what happens next.

3. Stay mentally behind the deal: Everyone around you will want to "get excited." Not you. You stay even-keeled. You get excited when the money hits your checking account.

Bryan Neale is a speaker and consultant with Caskey, a firm specializing in training and developing B2B sales teams through face to face training, teleconferencing, written material, custom podcasts and one on one coaching. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Float Like a Butterfly

Getting someone to see your point of view can often feel like pulling teeth. Everyone's wired to think differently, and some people really think differently. So what do you do when your client doesn't see your point, no matter how you explain it? Use a metaphor! Sales and communication trainer Anne Miller recently relayed a story that perfectly fits this situation - read on to see how you can use a metaphor to get your point across.

A reader of Anne Miller's newsletter recently wrote in with the following situation:

As Reed wrote, "I was talking to the Vice President of Sales for a California software company that I am assisting in marketing in Japan. He seemed interested of course in numbers, units sold, and where they stood in terms of lower-priced competitive products."

"I suggested that rather than getting into a features fight and the inevitable price comparison, that they brand their product in terms of their company image, people, and the cool projects they are involved in."

"My client stubbornly insisted we stay focused on the numbers. Realizing that logic was not going to persuade him, I sketched my idea on a piece of paper showing ants on the ground fighting it out over the small stuff, the individual features, vs. the insects with wings flying above the melee, the larger branding. I compared it to Muhammad Ali, and his 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'"

"Not only did that seem to work for him, but he came back with an intriguing metaphor of his own seeing my strategy as a way of separating themselves from what he called, 'the bottom feeders.'"

Reports Reed, "The metaphor took our conversation away from the dry numbers and performance stats, into the more interesting and emotional world of metaphors, which ultimately led to his acceptance of my ideas."

"An idea forced on people with logic alone rarely sticks," says Miller. "An idea expressed in images changes a listener's perspective and most often gets the results desired. What result do you want? Who doesn't quite see things your way? What metaphor or analogy can you use to shift that person's perspective?"

Anne Miller is the author of Metaphorically Selling. Check out her site at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Use My Name!

Getting a referral from a friend is great - up until the moment they ask you not to mention their name! All of a sudden your referral is a cold call. Check out this story from business consultant Diane Helbig and remember her advice to make sure you have a good quality referral.

I have a friend - we'll call him Bill. Bill told Ralph that he was targeting CPAs. Ralph said, 'One of my clients is a CPA. Here's his contact info.' So, Bill called the CPA and left a message. A day later Ralph called Bill and asked how it went with the CPA. Bill explained that he had left a message. Then Ralph told Bill that the CPA had called him and asked him not to give his name out anymore. Yikes!

This kind of story is being played out every day all over the world. And the damage it does is deep and wide. My other friend Betty was in a leads group the other day and said she was targeting Human Resource professionals. Roger passed her a lead but had written on it 'don't use my name.' Huh? Don't use my name? Again, this happens daily. 'Roger' doesn't realize the harm he is inflicting - on himself!

How are these referrals? According to the dictionary, a referral is 'a person recommended to someone or for something.' The dictionary definition of 'recommend' is 'to praise or commend to another as being worthy or desirable; endorse.' 'Recommend; worthy; endorse.' Interesting words.

First I'd like to address the damage caused by these actions.

The referrer (and I use the term lightly) damages himself for the following reasons:

--The person he gives the referral to feels that his referrals are empty.
--The person he refers others to becomes unhappy with him.
--People talk and his behavior will be shared with others, thereby damaging his relationships with them.

The person who received the 'referral' is damaged because:

--In the first example he can't approach those referrals again. They have just experienced him in a negative way.
-- Now his pool of referral sources has gotten smaller. He knows now that he can't trust that guy to provide him with quality referrals.
--Getting a referral that says 'don't use my name' is really getting just a name. It's a cold call. He's no better off than he was before.

So let's talk about quality referrals.

The best way to get quality referrals is to be known as someone who gives them. Certain elements must exist in order for a referral to have quality.

They are:
1. You know the person you are going to refer very well.
---You are aware of their professionalism, their performance, their customer service.
---You believe in them completely.
---You would do, or have done, business with them.

2. You know the person you are referring to very well.
---You know what their needs are.
---You know how they feel about being contacted by strangers.
---You know what they look for in a vendor

3. You know the best way to conduct the referral.
---Do you make an introduction?
---Do you contact the person for them?
---Do you provide background information to your associate so they are equipped when approaching?

"Knowing the answers to these items will help you in creating a referral system that works consistently and productively," says Helbig. "Then as you work your system, you'll position yourself as a networking pro. In addition, you'll find you are referred more often because you can be trusted. Did you notice? This system treats everybody fairly and respectfully." Quite a difference from 'don't use my name!'

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Successful people recognize crisis as a time for change - from lesser to greater, smaller to bigger." -- Edwin Louis Cole, Author

What can you do to ease the burden of the economic crisis? Whether it's monitoring your spending, planning sales calls to use less gas, prospecting more, or asking for referrals, there's always something more you can do. Make one little change today and see what effect it has on your sales tomorrow!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Language Can Shape the Outcome of a Negotiation

When people hear the word "negotiate" they often think of haggling or arguing over price - they don't necessarily think "win-win situation." Yet, according to communication expert Dianna Booher, that's exactly what negotiation can be.

"Only recently have negotiators embraced the idea that all parties can walk away winners," says Booher. "And language plays a big part in setting the tone, shaping how people think and feel about working together, and dictating the final outcome."

Consider these tips from Booher for a "win-win negotiation":

Substitute "we" for "you and me"
Let language imply your intention to work out an agreement to everyone's advantage. Examples: "What would we have to do to get X to happen?" "How can we design this schedule so you don't have to work overtime and so we can meet the customer's deadline?" "What can we work out so that I don't have a large cash outlay upfront, and you still feel that you're not walking into a high-risk situation?"

Start with goals, then move to solutions
If you start with solutions to a problem and one or both of you can't accept the stated solutions, you may remain at odds forever. If, on the other hand, you state only your goals or motivations, then you can either accept or reject solutions as necessary and still come to an agreement that allows both of you to meet your goals.

Dianna Booher is the founder of Booher Consultants, a global performance improvement firm that works with organizations to increase profitability and market share through more effective communication - oral, written, and interpersonal. Learn more at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

5 Ways to Handle the "No Budget" Objection

With the economy the way it is, I wouldn't be surprised if you're hearing "We don't have the budget" much more often than usual. That being said, companies are still buying - they're just being very cautious about it. Sales trainer Mike Brooks has some excellent ideas on how to sidestep the budget issue when calling on a prospect, instead focusing on finding out if there is a need. Go one step at a time, and you'll be able to make sales, even in a tough economy.

Here are Brooks' five proven ways of dealing with this objection that you can begin using today to break through your prospect's resistance and earn the right to present your product or service:

1. "I understand. I'm not calling to sell you anything today, that's not what this call is about. I'm simply calling to see if my company is a fit for what you're doing over there, and if we are, then to provide you with our information as a resource for the future for when you do have the budget.

"Now let me ask you..." (Start a dialogue and ask qualifying questions to see how you can help them, and watch their resistance come down and their buying signals come out!)

2. "________, that's exactly why I'm calling you. You see we work with (their kind of company) all the time and our solution actually saves you money over time. That's why so many companies invest a portion of their budgets into our (your product or service). But before we even talk about that, it's important to see if this can help you, too. I just have a couple of quick questions..." (ask a couple of qualifying questions now...)

3. "I know exactly what you mean, things are tough all over. Let me ask you this: Where do you normally get the budget from when an unexpected expense comes up?"

4. "That's perfectly OK. I don't expect you to even consider spending money on something you know nothing about, and that's why I’m here. Let me ask you a couple of quick questions, and if there is a fit between our companies, then you can determine if it makes sense to learn more about how our (your product or service) can help you (save money, make more money, save time which is money, etc.). Now..."

5. "_________, if you're like most of my clients right now, you're going to be extremely cautious regarding any money you spend, so I totally understand. Let's not talk about budget until we determine if our (your product or service) even makes sense for you. Let me ask you this..." (ask a qualifying question to determine if it even makes sense to keep talking to them)

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, offers free closing Scripts, and a free audio program designed to help you double your income selling over the phone. He works with business owners and inside sales reps nationwide teaching them the skills, strategies and techniques of top 20% performance. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Separate Yourself From the Pack

Yesterday sales trainer and author Jim Meisenheimer gave us some ideas on how to differentiate yourself from other salespeople, and make more sales in the process. He's back again today with more ideas - we hope they inspire you to see how different you can be.

1. Prepare differently.
Being prepared doesn't take the fun out of being spontaneous. In fact being prepared makes your spontaneity more appreciated. Prepare written sales call objectives. Prepare and practice the benefits of your products and services. Prepare and practice how you will handle the dreaded price objection. You can also prepare "Knock your socks off" sales proposals.

2. Ask different questions.
Try asking questions that don't include "Ahs" and "Ums." This is almost impossible to do when your questions aren't prepared prior to the sales call. When you ask a question and the customer responds with, "What do you mean?" that's a clear indication it wasn't a very good question.

Ask this question and see what kind of response you get: "What would it take to win your supplier of the year award?" And remember the better the question, the better the response will be.

3. A.B.T.D.T.
Always be trying different things. Look for the differences in people and things. Note what works and what doesn't work. Try taking small chances on a daily basis. Try doing things a little differently on a daily basis.

Here are a few more ideas from Meisenheimer to get you started - try brainstorming your own list today!

--Send 3-5 handwritten notes to internal and external customers every day.
--Thank everyone personally who helps you make a sale.
--Send birthday cards with the sound of music.
--Do one good deed everyday.
--Order personalized M&Ms.
--Say yes I can!
--Be positive!

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Selling What's Different

Company CEOs are bombarded every day with phone messages, emails, faxes, letters, and sales pitches from salespeople. And you know what? About 95% of those messages sound exactly the same.

That's why you need to stand out to make sales. If no one notices you, they'll never notice your solution. Read on for some advice from sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer on how to differentiate yourself from your competition.

1. Talk different.
I'd give anything, almost anything, to have a genuine/authentic British accent. Nothing makes you sound more different than a good accent. I was born in Brooklyn and so I have a slight accent. Okay - it's not slight, it's Brooklyn. Now get this, for the longest time I tried to hide my Brooklyn accent. When I moved to Chicago not a single day went by without someone pointing out the fact that I had a Brooklyn accent. So instead of accepting my different accent I try to avoid it, until one day I realized my accent made me different.

2. Look different.
In one of my sales training classes last week a woman told me her shoes make her different. Apparently she has quite a collection and her customers recognize this as a point of difference. It could be a very unique/handmade briefcase. It could be bow ties for men. It could be a very unique and eye-catching fountain pen. It could be you always favor one color. It could be anything you want it to be.

3. Do different.
Do things in a different way. You could develop a signature way to end every sales call. Many years ago NBC had an evening news program starring Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Every night they ended their program with "Goodnight Chet. Goodnight David. And goodnight for NBC News." It was their signature. It worked for them and it can certainly work for you.

We'll be back tomorrow with some more ideas from Meisenheimer on how you can differentiate yourself from the pack.

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, October 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Every chance meeting is an appointment." -- Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat

Networking opportunities are everywhere - in line at the grocery store, waiting at the dentist's office, even at the park. The next time you're waiting around, strike up a conversation and get to know people. You may be able to help them or they may be able to help you. No matter what, in today's economy, the more people you know the better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Win an Oscar for Your Sales Success

Yesterday sales trainer and commercial actor Drew Stevens showed us many of the ways sales and acting are similar. Today we'll continue with a few more points that will help you generate more sales - and maybe feel like you've won an Oscar in the process!

The communication cycle
Communication is imperative for every actor and selling professional. Both verbal and non-verbal skills are communication. Ensure success by emulating style, being open and articulate, asking good questions, and seeking information. Both situations include senders and receivers and each requires understanding for success.

Importance - Locating The Core Issue
Selling professionals must discover the core issues, periods, and decision makers. The core of selling is taking the risks needed and asking the difficult questions to gain the core. Similar to fitness today that uses CORE to reach individual goals, selling professionals too require core for compensatory success.

Find the events - A Series of Events
Selling situations progress from a series of events. Selling is a mosaic that requires several events to formulate the picture. Seek first to understand. Do not rush; ensure that each transaction is a part of the completed result.

Place - Remember Ghandi
A wonderful quotation from Mahatma Gandhi depicts this guidepost, "Be the change you want to see". Visualize your success, your conversations, and the occurrences with prospect. Visualization places you in the moment so that you eliminate surprises and ensure preparation. Be in the moment!

Game playing and role-playing - Play for purpose
Knowing the game and role you play helps you immeasurably to provoke conflict. Continue to remain in the moment. Know your role and how you create the events that shape closing the sale.

Mystery - Surprise, Surprise
Ask questions first to keep the client guessing. You need not offer full disclosure unless you too have useful information. The best selling professionals seek first to understand then to be understood.

"Each selling situation is similar to an acting scene," says Stevens. "Each has an antagonist and protagonist. Each has its conflicts and its desire for resolution. In addition, each requires some facade to emote decision and action. As William Shakespeare once penned, 'Sweet are the uses of adversity.' Conflict is the creation of the sales scene. Remember the conflict, build the relationship, develop trust, formulate emotion, and then close the business."

Drew Stevens PhD knows how to dramatically accelerate your business growth. Known as "The Sales Strategist" Drew Stevens has 25 years of domestic and international sales and marketing experience. Learn more at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Want an Oscar Winning Sales Performance?

Have you ever thought of selling as similar to acting? Sales trainer Drew Stevens certainly has - in addition to his 27 years of selling, he's also a commercial actor, and over the years he's noticed a lot of similarities. Read on for his insights into the world of selling from an actor's point of view.

Relationships - The first step toward selling
Relationships are the heart of every selling transaction. In fact, research indicates that relationships influence 65 percent of every transaction. Consumers purchase from those they know and respect.

Conflict - What do you want?
Conflict is apparent in every acting scene as actors search for the issues that must be resolved. Interesting, so must selling professionals. Consumers have issues and they must spontaneously be resolved. Selling professionals must understand the conflict and what they must do to amend it.

The moment before
Actors must understand the issues of a scene to integrate conflict and relationships. Selling professionals must identify with prospects' issues. It is imperative that selling professionals prepare for every call. Professionals must understand the customer, the competition, and the industry - the proper competitive analysis provides the sample of prospective client issues. When selling professionals understand the foundational issues, they can identify conflict and build better relationships.

Humor - Jokes are not the answer
There is too much cynicism and humor in business meetings. Be succinct and get to the heart of issues. Humor is meant for special times, not often.

Opposites - What is the motivation?
Whatever you decide is your motivation for the actor is fine. The same holds true in selling. Understand what your motivation is, but also that of the client. Be open to opposites and additional conflict. Always keep motivation of your client top of mind.

Discoveries - Things you did not know.
Provocative questions and proper listening lead to discoveries. Similar to the actor that makes discoveries as they build upon relationships in each scene, the selling professional too makes frequent discoveries. Always be ready to ask questions, never show surprise and understand when you believe you are complete there might still exist new information.

Want to learn more about these interesting similarities? Tune in tomorrow as sales trainer Drew Stevens fills us in on the rest of the similarities between acting and selling.

Drew Stevens PhD knows how to dramatically accelerate your business growth. Known as "The Sales Strategist" Drew Stevens has 25 years of domestic and international sales and marketing experience. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Staying Competitive

"After all is said and done, much more is said than done, is a quote I often use," says networking expert Andrea Nierenberg.

"Today more than ever, the power of follow up, follow through and staying on your client's radar screen will clearly keep you 'top of mind' and someone they may call on first when the need arises or when you create that need," says Nierenberg.

Here are a few suggestions that I've incorporated into my 'daily sales tool kits':

* Create Google Alerts for all of your clients, contacts and prospects. It is a terrific tool for staying in touch and to say hello with an idea.

*Buy a digital pen! They are a great conversation piece and a time saver. There are many on line and the software syncs to your computer so that you do not have to rewrite your notes and they automatically go into your contact management file.

As a conversation piece--people always ask me "why is that pen lit up?" ... then I can say how it works and everyone notices it. I carry it all the time so that it serves both as a time management tool, it ensures my follow up because my notes are right in front of me and it is a great icebreaker to start a conversation!

*Make a point to find out your client's and contacts' preferred method of communication. While email is our total business communication tool, when I ask this question, many people still say, "phone" - so make a point to call them first besides sending an email. I now find that some of my contacts also prefer text messaging - so make sure you get your fingers moving and stay current.

I write down in my database - every client and contact's preferred method of communication and use my Power of Three everyday - I send 3 additional emails, 3 additional phone messages and 3 additional text messages - JUST to stay in touch and be on their radar screen with an article, note or a thank you.

*Pull out a pen and paper. The art of the handwritten, personal note is something of an antique today and that is why it gets noticed. The post office tells us that only 4% of our mail is personal. Take the time to write a note to say hello, thank you for the business, thank you for the recommendation and even if you are rejected - thank you for your time and consideration.

"These suggestions are all 'going back to basics' - simple and easy to implement into your daily schedule," says Nierenberg. Try them out today!

Andrea Nierenberg is the president of The Nierenberg Group, a business communications company with a total process for educating, motivating and connecting people. Learn more at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is Email Hiding Your Personality?

A few weeks ago we ran an excellent article from sales trainer Kendra Lee, about email and its growing role in sales. Here is a follow-up from Lee that will keep you thinking about your use of email as a prospecting tool, and help you generate more sales in the process.

"Email is so much easier to use for prospecting than the phone," says Lee. "You can write it at any time day or night. You don't have to worry about being hung up on and you won't catch your client at a bad time. But it's also easily deleted with no response. When you put yourself into your email, your chances of getting prospects to respond escalate. You stand apart from the other sellers who blend together as Inbox clutter."

Here are Lee's suggestions to make your email stand out:

You know that it's your personality and message that distinguish you on the phone. But, when you write, you have to be really careful that the words you choose let your personality shine through. If your prospect can't feel your personality, you're no different than any other seller trying to get time on his calendar.

Here's the story of two sellers I've been working with and their very different email prospecting results: Eric, who follows the email prospecting rules perfectly, and Mae, who breaks the rules and allows her personality to shine.

Eric sells IT maintenance services. He does most of his prospecting via email because he doesn't like to cold call. He has an outstanding value proposition including impressive financial results clients have received in reducing unplanned IT expenditures.

Eric adapts his value proposition to the group he's targeting and follows all the email prospecting best practices.

--Limits the length to 4-5 sentences
--Uses only 1 link
--Includes a tag line in his signature
--Provides his phone and contact information
--Includes an offer his prospect can respond to if interested

Eric has utilized best-practices tactics for email, but even quoting impressive financial results and a client testimonial, he only gets replies from 10% of his prospects. Look at how Mae both uses those tactics and then goes beyond the norm to ensure her personality helps her make stronger connections.

Mae sells IT software and servers. She does most of her prospecting via email because she sees how easy it is to grab prospects' interest and for them to click reply. She identifies a small group of prospects to target, uses a value proposition like Eric's, then breaks the prospecting rules by:

  • Mentioning something about herself in every email, from running in an upcoming marathon to the kids being out on fall break in two weeks
  • Consistently following up over the course of a month, gently pushing for a connection. Each time Mae forwards the previous emails with a general, but personal, note about the prospect: how busy they must be now that it's fourth quarter; or, are the leaves turning?
  • Including a simple emoticon in her third or forth email to reinforce something personal she's written if it suits the content: Go Broncos!! : )
  • Writing a personal subject line, such as: Can we talk?, or Checking your availability Tuesday at 3:00

Mae's emails let her interest in talking with her prospect - and her personality - shine through. She becomes a real person who sat down at her PC to email this specific prospect. Her emails let prospects she's never met know it's her sending the email, not some marketing system, and in turn, as they realize it, they reply. As Mae continues to email them, a whopping 85% of prospects reply!

So how do you let your personality out and get 85% of your prospects to hit reply?

  • Mention a tidbit about yourself. One time I emailed a bunch of prospects during my birthday month and told them all it was my birthday that month! I got nearly a 100% reply rate and started a conversation with every one.
  • Picture your prospect and write as if you already know him. You know what job your prospect has, so talk about something he can relate to.
  • Make it easy to reply by suggesting a couple of times to talk. You've been friendly and now you're eliminating the work in scheduling a time to talk. Of course he's going to respond because you've given him a valuable reason to take you up on your offer.

"As your prospect gets to know you through your emails, he will respond as he would to anyone else he knows personally," says Lee. "After an email conversation he'll want to talk to you because he knows you, likes you, and feels comfortable with you. By combining best practices with your personality, your emails will become a productive prospecting tool - instead of a shot into the Inbox abyss."

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products. For more information, visit

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quote of the Week

"A fellow doesn't last long on what he has done. He has to keep on delivering." -- Carl Hubbell, Hall of Fame pitcher

Baseball playoffs are in full swing, and the players now have to deliver on the biggest stage of their lives. Having a low ERA during the regular season or a high on base percentage means nothing once you get to the playoffs. It's all about what you can deliver now.

It's the same thing in sales (well, without the audience of thousands). You can't rest on past accomplishments; you have to always be striving towards the next sale. Your boss, your customers and your bank account expect you to keep delivering results.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Avoid Causing Turbulence with Your Customers

Here's a great quick tip from sales trainer Al Uszynski that will help you stay on cruise control while speaking with clients:

Pilots on commercial aircrafts are trained to avoid using the word turbulence when they make their announcements from the cockpit. Instead they say "bumps" because it sounds less threatening and intimidating to passengers.

Salespeople could learn to choose their language carefully in selling situations. Instead of telling the customer how much they'll pay, tell them the amount they'll invest. Don't refer to objections by calling them "objections." Instead, refer to them as ideas. Don't ask them to sign a contract. Instead, have them authorize an agreement.

Al Uszynski is a sales trainer and professional speaker. He delivers speaking programs that deliver smart and insightful sales strategies - designed to help your people and your organization sell more, earn more and profit more. Visit his website at for more information.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Lessons from Mitch and Morrie

The best-selling book Tuesdays with Morrie is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. To coincide with the anniversary, a new edition of the book is being released that includes an afterword from author Mitch Albom. Sales trainer John Costigan recently re-read the book, and shares some insight he learned from the book and author.

"Mitch did not write this book for notoriety or fame," explains Costigan. "It was written with the hope that it would help Morrie pay his hospital bills. In his quest to find a publisher, he received endless rejections and was even told that he "had no idea what a memoir was." Mitch did not give up - and through his persistence and desire to help someone else, he found personal success. To date, Tuesdays with Morrie has been published in 31 languages in 36 countries, and has been read by millions.

Lesson One

"I call what Mitch did selfless persistence," says Costigan. "He had a goal to help someone else, not himself. When you focus on helping others, you "sell" for lack of a better term, from the heart. When you sell from the "head" or let your ego take over, you make it about you. Nothing can replace persistence, true. But selfless persistence is bullet piercing. Nothing can stop it, or you!"

Lesson Two

"When asked what he misses most about Morrie, Mitch mentions his smile, infectious laugh and wisdom, but the one thing that he misses the most is the twinkle that was always shining in Morrie's eyes when Mitch entered the room. "When someone is happy - genuinely happy - to see you, it is like going home."

"This is the second lesson," says Costigan. Be genuine.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "People may doubt what you say or what you do. But how you make them feel is what they will remember most about you." So true!

"Take a look at how you greet someone," suggests Costigan. "Are you truly genuine in how you treat people or is it simply a habitual pattern of engagement that you were taught as a child in an effort to be polite?"

"I encourage you to apply these two valuable lessons from Mitch and Morrie in your life and with your customers - and you will reap the rewards of greater personal success."

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Selling in Turbulent Times

I've gotten to the point where I turn off the news when the financial segment comes on. It's hard to stomach the fact that no matter whose fault it is, things are going downhill on Wall Street. But that doesn't mean things need to go downhill on your street.

"When we get news like we've had these past couple of weeks, it affects people's actions," says sales trainer Joe Guertin. "Just as a consumer might decide to hold off replacing their worn tires, businesses will put off making a purchase until they 'see what's going to happen.' And when business falls, sales fall."

"You and I cannot change people's minds about what the economy might do to them," continues Guertin. "In most cases, they have to discover that for themselves. But here's the good news. In most industries, you still have control. I talked to a sales rep a few weeks ago who lamented that his industry was projected to be down almost 25% the remainder of the year. So I asked him the gratuitous question, "who's getting the other 75%?" Here's are some tips to make sure it's you:

1. Balance your 'customer portfolio'
Customers who tend to move slowly, or are slow to change, are the most likely to cut back in turbulent times. Make sure your accounts and prospects are a good mix of slow moving and innovative companies so that you don't get caught short.

2. Use time more wisely
This is the time to examine your workday. Most of us start out well organized, but over time, we fall into ruts. Reading emails, visiting, paperwork and meetings start to consume a considerable amount of your time. Little things, like making phone calls in clusters (e.g.: 10 at a time) help us get a ton more done inside the workday.

3. See more people
Your customers will be getting a lot of phone calls, but you'll be the one sitting in their office. Get busy.

4. Ask more questions
Delays, objections and lost sales can often be traced to having insufficient information.

5. Go for the close.
Ask for the order. Nothing feeds into a customer's hesitation like leaving the potential sale on the table.

Joe Guertin is President of The Guertin Group, a sales training firm that delivers customized training on all aspects of the sales process. Learn more at

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Third Quarter Planning

Nine months down, three to go. Are you where you want to be? Have you exceeded your quota, or are you working to close a deal - any deal? Whatever the case, it's important to view the third quarter just like you would any other, and that entails effective sales planning. Sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer says, "At least once a year professional salespeople should dedicate a minimum of one day to strategically think about their business." If you haven't already done so, make a plan for your third quarter and how it will propel you into the New Year. Use these tips from Meisenheimer to begin your planning, and you'll be on the path to success.

"Begin your planning process with these six critical questions," suggests Meisenheimer. "Direct these questions at your business, your territory, your accounts, your customers, and naturally your competitors, and consider this process a success if you end up with more questions than answers."

1. Where are you are now?
Where are you now relative to your selling results and sales skills? How's your performance? What's your relative rank within your region and within your company?

What kind of overall growth do you have in your territory and in your top 10 accounts? Where are your competitors making inroads in your accounts? How well are you managing your time in your territory? What are your biggest challenges and best opportunities for growth? Please be specific.

2. Where are you headed if you don't change anything? What's the implication for you if you don't acquire new skills? What happens to your overall performance next year if you don't make up the loss of your second-largest customer?

How will your customers react to a strategy that is really based on a "More of the same" philosophy, especially when your competitors are becoming more creative in their approach? With more work and less time available, how are you planning to manage next year when your business is expected to grow 7% across the board?

3. Where should you be headed? Do you have specific personal and professional goals? Are these goals specific and clearly defined? Are they in writing? Do you have completion dates established? For each of your top 10 accounts do you have specific objectives for sales, margins, growth rates, product mix, etc?

4. How will you achieve your objectives? You really can't "do" a goal or an objective. What you can and must do is create a written action plan detailing how specifically you plan to achieve the goals you outlined when considering question three.

For example, if your goal is to increase your sales by 6.5% in your largest account, how specifically will you do it? How many "how's" will it take to achieve your goal?

5. What are the specific details involved? The details refer to: who, what, where, why, when, which, and how as they relate to initiating and implementing your strategies. In sales, minor adjustments often create big impacts.

6. What should you measure? Always measure what matters most. One of my favorite old sayings is "What gets measured gets done." To keep you on your stated course (objectives) how will you measure your progress? What key elements of success should your review monthly? Personal growth and development are often the result of careful measurement and evaluation.

"The difference between first-place and second place is often a very narrow margin," says Meisenheimer. "It's time for a tune-up if you're serious about making this year's 4th quarter your best 4th quarter ever."

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, October 6, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Hard work keeps the wrinkles out of the mind and spirit." -- Helena Rubenstein, cosmetics industrialist

Use this week to put a little extra effort into all of your selling endeavors. Whether you're calling prospects, responding to emails, or writing a proposal, make sure you're doing your very best. Not only will you leave the office feeling proud of that day's work, but you'll see the results displayed in your sales.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quarterback Retires and Teaches a Sales Lesson

Dante Culpepper recently retired from the NFL. He emailed his notice of retirement to the NFL, and sales trainer Dan Seidman wrote on his blog about the sales lesson he took from the letter. It's an important insight that's worth keeping in mind.

From Seidman's blog:

Dante Culpepper retired today from the NFL. His notice was sent by email and it has some fascinating wording in which is embedded a great selling lesson...

"I have been strongly encouraged from family, friends and league personnel to continue to be patient and wait for an inevitable injury to one of the starting quarterbacks in the league."

"I would rather shut the door to such 'opportunity' than continue to wait for one of my fellow quarterbacks to suffer a serious injury. Since I was not given a fair chance to come in and compete for a job, I would rather move on and win in other arenas of life."

There's a nice image - as soon as a competitor of mine has some traumatic disaster land on him the size of a 377-pound lineman, I get my turn.

Here's your thought, sales pro - Why wait? Why wait for something good or bad or interesting to happen? Just move on with your life. You know all those prospects that have been hanging you out to dry for months and months and more?

Move on. If you can't help someone else make a decision, you can't help them at all.

Move on. Your time is precious and you respect yourself when you treasure time enough to make decisions based on this truism.

Move on. There are great opportunities awaiting your attention.

Good luck Dante, we'll be watching to see where your toughness and talent get you more success and new adventures. And reps, start thinking about every situation you're in and whether you should move on.

Selected as one of the "Top 12 Sales Coaches in America," Dan Seidman runs the award-winning website, Tthe author of Sales Autopsy, a book that teaches the top 7 ways world-class sales pros distinguish themselves from everyone else, Seidman is also a gifted speaker. Learn more at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sales Training Tip: Have a Clear Future

How many times have you left a meeting feeling good about your presentation, only to realize you don't really have a plan with your prospect of what's coming next? Having a clearly defined idea of the next step is a very important part of the sales process. In a recent blog post, Brooke Green of Caskey Training discussed this situation, and what you can do to get on the same page as your prospect.

I was recently working with a client on knowing "What's next?" with their prospects and clients. It's a huge part of controlling the sales process. What we discovered is that my client is clear about what they think is going to happen, but they haven't shared it with their customer!

How do you know if you're all on the same page? Your customer may have an entirely different plan.

Here are six things to do every time you leave a meeting so that you are in control of the process, and your client is never surprised:

1. If your gut is nagging you, something has been left unsaid; never leave with a nagging feeling.

2. Always recap what you've heard in the meeting and make a suggestion for what you think the next step should be; remember your prospect is looking for you to lead them.

3. If there is no next step, don't try to make something up! Be okay with saying, "Goodbye, we're not a good fit."

4. If you know there is something there, but you're not sure "What's next?" it's okay to say so. Say something like, "I would like to digest what we discussed today. I think there is a reason for us to meet again, but I'm not sure what should happen next. I'll be in touch in the next day or so with some ideas on how to move forward." It's still a "clear future". No one is left wondering "What's going to happen after you leave?"

5. Your "clear future" should be how you open the next meeting. "Mr. Smith, we agreed in our last meeting that today we would talk about signing a contract..."

6. Your meetings should be followed up with a recap, either by letter or e-mail. The recap should state what you heard, what you decided to do and when you will do it.

"In our training, we work with our clients on always having a 'clear future,'" says Green. "How many of you have left a meeting thinking it was a good meeting but also saying to yourself, 'I wonder if I should call them? Should I send an email? Maybe I should wait for them to call me?' A "clear future" is a great tool for keeping the right deals in your funnel and to keep those deals moving forward."

Brooke Green is a speaker and consultant with Caskey, a firm specializing in training and developing B2B sales teams through face to face training, teleconferencing, written material, custom podcasts and one on one coaching. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Email is the New Phone

Of all the things changing in the business world, one of the most influential is the use of technology, particularly email, to facilitate the sales process. It wasn't that long ago that most of us used the telephone or called on clients in person to make sales. Now we prospect with email, and may even have some clients who prefer that the entire communication be electronic. Kendra Lee of KLA Group explains how you can evolve with the times and make more sales.

"If you're like I was, you believe email should be answered after hours when you are not on the phone or in customer meetings," says Lee. "This is how I handle proposals. They can't be written during valuable customer "face" time, but should be saved for that time of day when customers are not available."

"But, expectations and how email is used have changed," continues Lee. "Many customers now expect you to hold whole conversations via email, sometimes with emails flying within minutes of each other, just as if they were instant messages or a phone call. With these changes email is now as important as face-to-face meetings and phone calls."

Here are some tips to consider when making email a primary customer interaction tool:

---View email as a new prospecting tool. After you leave a voicemail, follow-up with an email, giving prospects two easy ways to respond. Remember, your goal is to connect with the person. Even if they respond "No", you have connected and can respond.

---Keep the sales process moving forward using email to ask requirements, gather questions, get referrals, make recommendations, and provide updates.

---Respond to all emails with action items promptly. You return phone calls within 1 to 24 hours. The expectation now is that you'll return emails within 30 minutes to 12 hours. If you can't respond completely, send an email setting expectations about when you will send a full response.

---Think, and proof, before you send. Sometimes it's best to draft a response, then wait 30 minutes before sending. You may choose to soften, shorten, or otherwise change your response.

---You may need a hand-held device such as a Blackberry to keep up. Consider what tools you need to add this new customer interaction approach and make the investment.

---Schedule daily time on your calendar to respond to emails. Consider this equal to customer meeting time. If you are holding complete customer conversations via email, you really are holding a meeting. Give it equal time for a well thought out response with a request for next steps.

"There are many benefits that can be realized by using email," says Lee. "This includes ease of connection and a better way to communicate in certain circumstances. Be prepared and you’ll soon find yourself reducing your sales cycle and closing opportunities via email!"

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products. For more information, visit