Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Commitments

At the stroke of midnight tonight, the New Year enters. What do you want 2009 to bring for you? Will you be making a New Year's resolution? As someone who has broken many New Year's resolutions (very quickly, too!), I'll be taking sales trainer Joe Bonura's advice this year and making a New Year Commitment, rather than a resolution. Here's why:

"From now on, do not make any more New Year Resolutions (NYR); only make New Year Commitments (NYC)," says Bonura. "While a resolution is a firm decision to do something, a commitment is a devotion or dedication to a cause. Do you agree that dedicating yourself to DOING something is much more powerful than DECIDING to do it?"

It always works better if you take a systematic approach to making a New Year Commitment. Here is a great way to approach the task:

As Easy As One, Two, Three
1. Make a list of all your commitments for the coming year.
2. Go over the list and select the three most important ones that you will commit to doing.
3. Devise an action plan that includes tactics that will move you toward your goal. This includes how and when you will accomplish your goals.

Hold Your Feet to the Fire
Discuss your NYCs with an accountability partner who will hold your feet to the fire if you fail to move forward in achieving your commitments. Also stress to your accountability partner that you will not be upset with their honesty and resolve to have you reach your objectives.

Powerful Little Package
Write your three commitments on a 3x5 card, fold the card into a tight little package, and carry it with you everywhere you go. The card will serve as a constant reminder of your commitment for improvement.

Dream Your Way To Accomplishment
Every night before you retire, for each of your commitments, list something that you will do to move toward your goals. It is a task that takes less than five minutes, and if you do it before you turn-in for the night, your subconscious will take over while you sleep.

Make An Appointment With You
Make a calendar appointment with yourself once a week to do a gut-check on your progress toward accomplishing your NYCs. Put the appointment on the calendar and show up, just as you would for any appointment.

Party Time
Celebrate each time you accomplish a milestone on one of your NYCs. In other words, reward yourself for a stratagem or course well done.

Start Climbing
Enjoy the New Year, and make every day a rung on the ladder to the success that you will achieve.

Joe Bonura is known as a "real world" speaker who gives his audiences ideas they can apply immediately to increase sales and improve service. Bonura is also the author of "Throw the Rabbit: The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling." Learn more at

The SalesDog blog will be quiet tomorrow as we celebrate the New Year and write a few New Year Commitments of our own! We'll see you Friday!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Give Business to Your Competitors

Since you might still be feeling the season of giving, now's a good time to try giving something that feels counterintuitive to most salespeople. Sales trainer Kelley Robertson explains:

"From time-to-time you may encounter a situation when your product, service or solution does not fit a prospect's specific situation," says Robertson. "Some people try to force a solution in order to get a sale but this does not generate positive long-term relationships."

"Sometimes it makes good business sense to suggest a competitor because their product or service is more appropriate for that particular customer. You may shudder at the thought of 'giving' revenue to your competition but if you can't provide the best solution there's no point trying to keep the sale. It does not make good business sense."

"Here's an example of how this works," continues Robertson. "I have alliances with several other sales trainers, and indirectly, we all compete against each other. But, at the same time, we each specialize in different areas. So, if an engineering company contacts me about sales training, even though I can probably deliver a good program, I know someone who is more qualified so I put the prospect in touch with that person."

As Zig Ziglar once said, "You can get anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want." Sometimes, it makes sense to give business to your competition. Competitive alliances can work in your favor.

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. Learn more at

Monday, December 29, 2008

Quote of the Week

"A good plan is like a road map: It shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there." -- H. Stanley Judd, Writer

2008 is coming to a close, and if you haven't begun already, it's time to set your course for 2009. What are your goals for the upcoming quarter and beyond? What will you do to achieve those goals? Planning what you want, and how you're going to get it, is the best way to reach the top.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Closing Business During the Holidays

Yes, tomorrow is Christmas. How many of you are working today? How about on Friday, the day after, or next week? Just like you, there are plenty of people at work - so don't think you can slack off - especially if you're still chasing that end-of-the-year number! Yesterday sales trainer Colleen Francis gave us some ideas on keeping sales going now and through the end of the year. Here are a few more for you to try:

1. Question them into a corner - and close them when they get there. Tell your clients: "I would be happy to call you back next year. Do you mind if I ask, what will have to be different in May to make you want to buy from me then?" Or take the opposite approach, and ask: "Will anything change over the next few weeks that will cause you not to buy?" Once the prospect assures you that they do want to do business with you, you can respond with: "Great! Let's get your order into production now so your project won't be delayed, and we'll deliver it after January 1st."

2. One of my clients offers to ship his product in advance and the invoice later, so his customers can benefit from having the product on site while paying for it later. Of course, he only does this with clients who have excellent credit. But it works great - and he never has to discount his prices!

3. Use the "F" word. Agree with your clients, and then disagree, by offering an alternative: "I understand how you feel. Other clients of mine have told me that they felt the same way. What they have found is that they can save up to 20% if they buy now. For example, at ACME corporation they..."

4. Get a testimonial letter. Testimonials are the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Ask someone who bought before the quarter end, or any client who accelerated their purchase and was glad they did so, to write you a two-paragraph letter. The first paragraph should state how they originally wanted to wait, and the value they received by not putting it off - for example, did they save money? Time? The second paragraph should detail how happy they are with your after-sales service.

5. Get scarce! Remind your customers (if it's true!) that the price will be going up after a specified date or that there might be a product or delivery back-up after the first of the month, and advise them to schedule delivery now. If your business tends to be seasonal, encourage clients to buy during off-peak periods in order to get priority shipping and production.

"The success with which you handle the end of the year trap is directly related to the quality of the relationship you've built with your prospect or customer," says Francis. "A good relationship gives you more freedom to press for immediate action. A weak relationship may mean you end up having to wait until next year to make the sale - or longer."

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 10 day intensive sales eCourse:

The SalesDog blog will be quiet tomorrow and Friday as we take time off to enjoy the holiday with our families. Happy Holidays, and we'll see you on Monday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Escape the End-of-Year Trap

Are you caught in the end-of-the-year trap? According to sales trainer Colleen Francis, that's when "you've got pressure from your manager to close deals NOW, while you're getting the put off from clients who want to call you back after the holidays, next year."

"The end of the year is a time when both you and buyers have fires burning bright and often those priorities conflict with each other," continues Francis. "Many times we find that buyers use other priorities as an excuse to put buying decisions on hold. This can be especially bad if your clients tend to be publicly traded companies with a budget to hit by the end of the year."

"We're too busy now!", and "Call me back next year" are two of the most frustrating stalling tactics you'll ever hear in sales.

So what can you do to stop your prospects from stalling - and put a stop to the end of the year trap? Here are 10 suggestions from Francis:

1. Keep your pipeline full. If you have a pipeline with at least three to four times as many prospects as you need in order to meet your goals, you (and your manager!) will feel far less pressure. When you feel less pressure, you'll close more deals. Ironic? Yes. True? You bet. Most closing problems are prospecting problems. In other words you are not closing the sales you need because you don't have enough prospects to sell to.

2. Have a "closing blitz day" at the office or, better yet, arrange a week or month long contest to see who can close the most deals.

3. Reach out to customers personally, on the phone or face-to-face this month. Emails are easy to ignore. Meetings where you are learning more about their business and presenting creative solutions to their problems are not. While you're at it, take your manager with you. You send the message that your client and prospects are valuable to you if are willing to make the investment in bringing a senior level manager to meet them.

4. Make the customer be specific when they stall. "Thanks for letting me know that next year is better for you. What date would you want to place the order?" Or: "I would be happy to call you back next month. Would Tuesday, July 11th at 10:00 a.m. work for you?"

5. Offer alternatives. Once when I was selling software, we offered to split an invoice in two, charging the customer for the software in March and the maintenance in April. Because the payments were split, the order fit better into her quarterly budgets, and the customer was able to make the deal right away. Can you think of a creative way to help your customers say yes right now?

These are just a few ideas you can use to continue closing business through the remainder of the holiday season. We'll be back tomorrow with a few more to keep you busy!

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 10 day intensive sales eCourse:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come." -- Chinese proverb

When thinking of ways to expand their business, many people come up with grand schemes of gifts, events and advertising campaigns. While excellent ideas, it's often better to start small, and watch business grow from there. Focus on making your customers as happy as possible, and let them tell others about you. It's a low-cost way to gain exposure and loyal customers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to Write an Introductory E-mail That Doesn't Get Deleted

Sales trainer Steve Martinez recently relayed a story of bad introductory emails and gave some advice to make sure you don't commit the same offense. Read on to make sure your email is read, and not sent directly to the trashcan!

"Today I received an introductory email from a company that wanted to tell me how great they are and why they want to do business with me. There were about 232 words in the message. I know, because I counted them. Plus, I had to read the message four times to get the gist of what the author wanted me to know."

We are all busy and when you write a business letter or an email, here are a few tips:

--Make the letter personal and use first and last names instead of being formal like you are talking to my father. I don't really like being referred to as Mr. Martinez. When you do this, it makes me feel old and puts me off right away.

--Remember, if you want someone's attention, we are a society that is "ME" centered. This means that it isn't about you - we don't care how great you or your company is. Tell us how your service will impact us and maybe we will take a shine to what you offer.

--Close with an incentive or a call to action that gets us excited to consider doing business with you. If you want us to do something, spell it out clearly and if there is a time frame for action, make that clear too.

--Add a picture and logo to your message to help us remember you. We are only human and it really helps to put a name to a face because we will remember a face or a logo better than the words you write.

When writing a letter or an email, try to write it as a friend to a friend. Keeping your message simple and short is also important.

Steve Martinez is a leading authority on automating and systemizing the selling process. His company, Selling Magic, LLC teaches businesses how to simplify, balance and automate the complex selling process. Learn more at

Thursday, December 18, 2008

So You Don't Like to Network

How many holiday parties have you gone to over the past couple of weeks? If you're turning down invitations left and right because you don't like to network, you're missing out on valuable opportunities. Check out this article from referral guru Joanne Black on how to network the right way - you'll be out there enjoying yourself in no time!

Build Your Business Referral Network
Think of networking as building your Business Referral Network. These Business Referral Networks are the contacts you develop because you attend networking events regularly. You not only attend, but you become involved. Every organization needs and welcomes volunteers. Think about what you can contribute. Even if it is just a small amount of time, you will develop lasting relationships because others will know that you do what you say you will do and keep your time commitments.

Once you get to know people and they get to know you, you will find many opportunities to provide business referrals. You might refer someone to a potential client, alliance partner, or to a person in a similar business. You might even have a personal referral - to an accountant, banker, or mechanic - a resource that will help another person. We become referral marketing sources for others, and others do the same for us.

Referral networking is about building relationships and being genuine. You network to make friends, sell a product, promote your company, find a job, find new clients, learn the latest from others, or gain more visibility in the business community. Business networking opportunities exist everywhere - meetings, professional associations, alumni groups, sports groups, community groups, weddings, parties, and any place people come together.

Expand Your Reach
During the holidays, we have an exceptional opportunity to meet new people at a very social and happy time of year. You have many networking events to attend at this time of year. Invite someone you'd like to know better to go along with you. They will have a chance to meet new people, and you both win.

Remember Woody Allen's old adage: "Seventy percent of success in life is showing up." Showing up counts. The more often you show up, the more visible you become, and the more people will get to know and recognize you.

Set Real Goals
Your goal should be to attend at least one event per week at which you'll have an opportunity to meet potential referral sources. In fact, this is a non-negotiable part of my referral marketing strategy. You can attend a breakfast, lunch, or evening networking event - or all three.

I have four goals when attending a business networking event:

1. Meet interesting people
2. Learn something
3. Get a new client
4. Have fun

If I achieve at least three of these goals - and I make a point to do so - I am thrilled! You will be, too. So go out there, build your Business Referral Network, and have a great time!

Joanne Black is a leading authority on referral selling and the author of "No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust" from Warner Business Books. Learn more at her website:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taking Care of Clients and YOU at the Holidays

Everyone's busy this time of year - but salespeople are even busier. Not only do you have a long list of things to do for family and friends, but you've got your clients to think of as well. It's easy to get overwhelmed this time of year, so it's important to make time for yourself as well. Check out this advice from sales trainer Rochelle Togo-Figa, and the make the next couple weeks much easier!

Here are 6 tips from Togo-Figa to help you take care of clients, reduce holiday stress and open up more time for you to enjoy the things that matter most.

Make a list of client gifts.
Make a list of all the clients you need to buy gifts for. Look for gifts you can buy for multiple people and one store where you can buy these gifts. If you don't like shopping, plan a single gift-shopping day and do it sooner than later to avoid the holiday shopping craze. Or, do all your holiday shopping from home. Thanks to the Internet and catalogs, you can order gifts from the comfort of your office.

Target a client's interests.
The gift you give is a direct reflection of your business. Try to find gifts that fit your clients' interests. Do they follow certain sport teams? Like a specific kind of music? Have a special hobby? Make it a point to learn your clients' interests over the course of doing business together. If you don't know what your client enjoys, ask. You can also contact the assistant to find out what they like or dislike.

Reach out to clients.
Give the gift of a phone call or note. Let your clients know how much you appreciate their business and say it with words. A little customer appreciation goes a long way and has you stand out from the crowd. Although the holidays may seem like the perfect time to give a gift, a phone call or note letting them know they are remembered during the holidays may be the best gift they get.

Refuse invitations.
You don't have to go to every party just because you're invited. If party going becomes a chore or too exhausting, step back and slow down the pace. Attending a party you really don't want to be at will feel more like an obligation than a choice. Put yourself first by setting boundaries and saying "no thanks."

Adjust your expectations.
Be realistic. Just because it's the holiday season, issues with clients and family may not always be joyous. Everything will not be perfect. The holidays bring up many different emotions for people and maybe even for you. Expect a few bumps in the road and you'll be able to better deal with whatever comes your way.

Take time for yourself.
With so much emphasis on spending time with family and friends, many people feel guilty taking time for themselves. Take it! When you consciously plan to have alone time, it keeps you centered and balanced. For the holidays, give yourself the gift of time. When you take care of yourself, you'll have more to give to your clients, your family, and your own life.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What You Can Control in Tough Times

As someone who tends to worry constantly about things I have no control over, I found this article from sales trainer Tom Reilly very helpful. No matter how tough your situation is - be it financial, health, or family-related, it's important to realize we can only do so much. Let go of things you can't control and focus on those you can.

"The reason people fret and stress over tough times is that most of us feel like things are happening outside our sphere of control," says Reilly. "There are things you control and things you cannot control. You cannot control Wall Street. You cannot control the price of fuel. You cannot control the news from the media. But, there are significant things you can control."

"The rule of thumb for sanity in tough times is: Give time and energy in proportion to the amount of control you have. Things over which you have little or no control get little time and attention. Things over which you have more or total control get a lot of time and energy."

You can control how much you prepare for a sales call.
You do not want to be out-prepared by the customer for a meeting in which you will discuss price. You do not want to be out-prepared by the competition for a product demonstration. Preparation builds your confidence and tilts the playing field in your direction.

You can control how hard you work.

You do not want to be out-worked by the competition. Imagine losing an opportunity because your competitor worked harder than you did. Your work ethic is an expression of your commitment. Working diligently at a task makes you feel better about the quality of your work.

You can control your attitude of serving.

You do not want to be out-served by the competition because their attitude about taking care of customers is better than your attitude. If they out-care you, you deserve to lose the opportunity. Serving others takes your mind off how bad you feel.

If you prepare thoroughly, work hard, and care genuinely about serving your customers, you have nothing to fear from tough times. Your customers will make sure you emerge victorious.

Tom Reilly is a sales trainer and the author of How to Sell and Manage in Tough Times and Tough Markets. Learn more at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude." -- Ralph Marston, Author

With 2008 disappearing quickly, there's only so much time left to make quota, or better yet, exceed it! Face the rest of 2008 with a hardworking, open-minded attitude, and you'll see the results reflected in how you start 2009.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Creating a Great 2009 Now

Yesterday we got some great tips from sales trainer Paul McCord on how to start building a great 2009 now. Here's some more excellent advice to help you get started:

Commit Yourself to Working with Prospects, Not 'Hopes'
Many salespeople waste huge amounts of time working with 'prospects' that are nothing but hopes and prayers. In a weak economy you cannot afford to waste your time with 'hopes.' 'Hopes' are not only time killers, they're moral killers.

Commit yourself to learning how to really qualify prospects and then spend your time working only with them. Let your 'hopes' go. Understand also that there is a difference between a 'hope' and a real long-term prospect.

Commit Yourself to Planning and Organizing for Success
Top producers plan for their success. They know where they are going and how they are going to get there. They leave nothing to chance.

They know when and how they will prospect. They know when and why they will engage in training. They know who their prospects are, where to find them, and how to connect with them. They have realistic, well-defined goals - and know how they will achieve those goals. They run their sales business like a business. They don't just show up for work in the morning, wondering what they'll do that day.

They know. They know because they know where they're going and what they must do to get there.

Planning is critical to success. During the reminder of December, create your written plan for 2009. Set your goals for selling, for training, for prospecting and personal marketing. A plan isn't a plan unless it is specific and written.

Commit Yourself to Working with the Clients You Want to Work With
Most salespeople are relegated to working with anyone who'll buy--jerks, price shoppers, overly demanding opportunists. Top producers, on the other hand, work only with clients they want to work with.

You don't have to resign yourself to working with clients you can't stand. You don't have to take whatever comes your way. You, too, can join the ranks of those who work only with clients you enjoy working with and who appreciate your efforts. But you can't do it unless you learn to find and connect with prospects you want to work with.

Cold calling, direct mail, faxing fliers, and many other traditional methods of prospecting put you in a position of having to deal with whomever shows an interest in your products or services, whereas learning to generate quality referrals from your clients, networking through industry associations where a large number of your prospects gather, and other more sophisticated methods of finding and connecting with prospects will give you the opportunity to select and work with those prospects you want to work with.

Commit to moving your sales business from a catch as catch can business to one that you control by learning how to find and connect with high quality prospects that you like and respect and who will appreciate your work on their behalf.

Time is short. 2009 can be your best year ever if you commit yourself to taking the steps necessary to create the business you want, not the one happenstance dictates for you. It won't be easy. It will take energy. You'll have to invest in yourself. But the payoff is a career that will give you satisfaction, enjoyment, and a secure future. The time is now. Just do it.

Paul McCord is president of McCord Training, an international sales training and consulting firm located in Texas. He is the author of the popular Sales and Sales Management Blog. He may be reached at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Make December the Foundation of a Great 2009

Weak economy? Slower sales? Worried about next year? Yes, the economy is much weaker than at this time last year. And, yes, sales are harder to come by now than they have been in a long time.

"Nevertheless, these conditions don't mean you have to fret or resign yourself to struggling through 2009," says sales trainer Paul McCord. "Instead of fretting, resigning yourself to a poor year, or even giving up completely and finding another occupation, you can turn 2009 into your strongest year ever."

Instead of worrying, feeling sorry for yourself, or getting depressed, take the month of December to give yourself the gift of a strong 2009 by taking control of your sales business by committing yourself to implement these strategies from McCord:

Commit Yourself to Using Your Time Wisely
Time is the only thing you have to sell, and when you're faced with a tough selling environment, how you use your time is of utmost importance. Now more than ever you must concentrate your time on doing only those things that are necessary for success: finding, selling, and serving clients. Everything else must be eliminated or minimized.

As salespeople, we only have two types of time at our disposal - money making time and busy work time. Money making time is the time we spend doing those things that make us an income: prospecting, selling, and serving our customers. Busy work time is the time we spend doing everything else - organizing, designing fliers, shooting the breeze with our associates, preparing to prepare to do something.

Studies indicate that the typical salesperson only works about 20 to 25% of the time (work being defined as being engaged in money making activities). That, of course, means we're spending 75 to 80% of our time in busy work activities.

If you want 2009 to be a great year, you must turn that equation around and spend 75 to 80% - or more - of your time making money rather than wasting your time doing things that really don't matter.

Commit Yourself to Improving Your Skills
Now more than ever it is imperative you sharpen your selling skills. Like any other activity, the more you develop your skills, the better the results of our efforts. Even after years of coaching and practicing, top professional athletes are constantly studying, improving, practicing.

To become a top salesperson you have to have a solid understanding of psychology, you have to be an accomplished communicator, know the right questions to ask to discover your prospect's underlying wants and needs, be able to control the conversation without manipulating your prospect, know where and how to find and connect with quality prospects, have a thorough understanding of your products and services and how they will satisfy your prospect's need, and dozens of other individual skills.

Top sales producers spend 10 to 15 times as much time, effort, and money in sharpening their skills as the average salesperson. Their production didn't come through luck or happenstance. For the vast majority, their success didn't come by chance - they earned their success through hard work, study and practice. They read the books, listened to the CD's, attended the seminars, hired the sales coach, and applied what they learned. They stumbled and fumbled and practiced until they became experts in each of the individual skills. And yet they still invest the hours and the dollars to be constantly improving.

Commit yourself, right now, to doing the same.

We'll be back tomorrow with more advice from McCord on how you can create a foundation this month for a great 2009.

Paul McCord is president of McCord Training, an international sales training and consulting firm located in Texas. He is the author of the popular Sales and Sales Management Blog. He may be reached at

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beware of What You Send Before a Meeting

Sales trainers Jim Dunn and John Schumann recently relayed an interesting story in their weekly Whetstone Group newsletter. A rep secured an appointment with a prospect that would be a good fit for their products. When the prospect asked for some info before the meeting, Richard, the rep, sent over a thorough package with product spec sheets, a partial client list, company history, recent press releases, and more. Two days before the appointment the prospect called and said he had looked over the materials and didn't feel a meeting would be necessary, it wasn't a good fit.

Has this ever happened to you? If it has, read on for Dunn and Schumann's advice on how you can avoid this time-wasting situation.

"You may find this hard to believe, but often prospects are looking for a way not to meet with you," explain Dunn and Schumann. "We've all had meetings with salespeople that have proven to be disappointing and afterward said to ourselves, well, that was a waste of time. Wish I'd qualified them better before I let them come in. So, they want to see something first and often they're using what you send to disqualify you. Does this mean that they'll always find something they don't like? Of course not, but think of what Richard sent: specification sheets on products that might not be a fit; a client list that might not contain similar type companies or companies that were too small or a company history that someone could interpret as not having a good enough track record. You never can tell."

"Beware of what you send to prospects before you meet," Dunn and Schumann continue. "The ideal situation is not to send anything, to let your skills in asking questions and probing for the prospect's pain give them the desire to see you. But if you must send something, ask them what they want to see and find out why that's important. And, send a very minimum amount of information. In this case, less is better."

"Finally, tell them that you know they'll undoubtedly find something in the information that may not apply to their situation and that you hope they won't use that as a reason to have second thoughts about seeing you. You'll find that simple statement will make them think twice about finding something to disagree with."

Learn more about The Whetstone Group at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Diligent or Desperate?

Diligent follow-up is an important part of being successful in sales, but have you ever worried that your follow-up comes off as desperate to your prospects? It's easy to cross the line without realizing you're doing it. These tips from sales trainer and author Renee Walkup are a great way to make sure you're coming off as professional and dedicated - and not desperate!

Avoid pinning the customer into your time frame.

For example, telling the customer that you will call him in two days doesn't empower him to take the lead. What's so special about two days? Ask your customer when is the best time for him. You may find it's sooner than two days. Once you negotiate the day and time, then be diligent by following up when you promised.

Avoid the "end of month special" approach.
Whenever a salesperson tells a customer that they have to purchase by the last date of the month/quarter/year, it spells "desperate" to a customer. Let the customer know about the deals and be more relaxed about the end of month. You can follow up, and in fact, I encourage you to do so...just don't push for the end of the month. Customers are able to recognize a good deal and they buy on their time frames. Just keep in mind that if the customer misses the 31st deadline, they will end up paying more and you increase your commissions.

The same is true for price increases for those of you in commodity markets.
When you call and tell your customer the price is going up by the 6th, another reminder call, email, or note is perfectly in order. The customer has a calendar--give them the options of when to buy when there's an impending price increase on the horizon.

Always do what you say.

If you tell the customer you will call on Thursday at noon, it doesn't matter what has occurred, call the customer at that time! Even if an emergency has arisen, call before that time and let him/her know.

Follow up, follow up, and don't forget to follow up!

Remember the "diligence" part?

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

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free - and worth a fortune." -- Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

Have you started sending out your holiday cards yet? The postman has been sending bigger and bigger stacks my way, a clear reminder that I need to get started!

When you're sending out your cards, take the time to write a personalized note to each of your clients, telling them what they mean to you. A few words about how they brighten your day, or how you love the jokes in their emails will remind them that you care - and that you pay attention!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't Let the Economy Stress You Out!

We've got so much stress in our lives these days - from the holidays and the economy, in addition to all the regular stress in our lives! Not only does stress make you feel bad, it also takes away from your work and makes you less productive - thus creating more stress. Beat the stress cycle with these tips from sales trainer Colleen Francis.

1. Laugh. Laughter is one of the best tension releasers there is. Find things to laugh about and people to laugh with. Laughter is a great antidote for taking life too seriously. I keep a file of great jokes in my email system so when I need a great laugh, I can get one instantly! I also visit for a good laugh.

2. Take breaks. If you are working on a stressful activity, set it down for a few minutes, stretch and if you can, go for a walk. Learning to interrupt a stress-producing activity will help give you the break from tension that you need. You'll return to your activity refreshed and ready to be more productive. If you can get some exercise it will help you clear your mind and more productively solve the problem or the task at hand. Your body needs a break about every 90 minutes. So be sure to get up from your desk, have a snack and change your focus for about 15 minutes.

3. Make "happy" plans. Reward yourself for completing a task or hitting a goal. Make sure you set that goal in advance of completing the task because anticipation is an exciting feeling and will help propel you to success. Plan to see a special movie, eat out with someone you like, or do something else that pleases you. What gets rewarded gets repeated.

4. Focus your thoughts. The habit of thinking about too many things at the same time is extremely fatiguing and stress producing. Instead of being overwhelmed and unproductive, concentrate on one task at a time. Try making a list of other things you must do, and then put the list aside, so that you don't have to think about the tasks, but you won't worry about forgetting them either. Multi-tasking leads to stress. Focus on one task at a time. Complete it without interruption, cross it off your list and move on.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. Learn more at

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Abstain From Judging

As someone once advised, "Grow antennae, not horns."

"If you prejudge someone as shallow, crazy, or ill informed, you automatically cease paying attention to what they say," says sales trainer and author Tony Alessandra. "So a basic rule of listening is to judge only after you have heard and evaluated what they say. Do not jump to conclusions based on how they look, or what you have heard about them, or whether they are nervous."

"In fact, a good exercise would be to go out of your way to listen to a difficult speaker," continues Alessandra. "Maybe he talks with a thick accent. Or talks much more rapidly, or more slowly, than you, or uses a lot of big words. Whatever difficulty this speaker poses, seize it as an opportunity not to prejudge but to practice your listening skills. Given some time, you will become more comfortable and effective in listening to diverse styles."

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Business is Booming

With all the negativity in the media, it's easy to let yourself get down - and that negativity can be picked up by your clients. That's why it's so important to keep an upbeat attitude, and this article from sales trainer Billy Cox is a big help with that.

"When people ask how your business is doing, you should always say, "Business is booming...It's great!," says Cox. "Remember that business only goes where it's invited and only stays where it is welcomed. If you have a negative attitude, your customers will spend their money elsewhere."

"Your words are like seeds that have creative power. They will produce exactly what you say, so every day you need to make positive declarations. Instead of saying, "Woe is me," you need to say, "I'm prosperous, I'm talented, I'm creative, I'm wise, everyone loves me, everyone is buying from me, good things will come my way and Business is booming...It's great!" Those words will get down deep inside and change your outlook and results."

"The late Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, said, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." In challenging times, when the media is hyping the negative, your attitude precisely determines business results. Whatever you believe is true you will make happen. If you believe business is good, you will have more confidence, work harder, and have the courage to overcome any fears that are generated by negative media."

"This is the attitude of all highly successful people," says Cox. "They don't care about the nightly news, the economy, or the weather because successful people don't follow the crowd. They understand that when the crowd is going one way they will capitalize on opportunities where others believe none exist."

"We are in the middle of the richest economy in the United States' history. There has never been more money out there and plenty of people are making lots of it. The top leaders say everyday that "Business is booming...It's great!" It is what it is because they make it great."

Learn more from Billy Cox at You can also reach him at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping

When I saw this article from sales trainer Adrian Miller, it immediately caught my eye - it's like my own personal motto. What can I say, I like to shop! That being said, we all have to work hard to support our spending habits. This advice from Miller will get you shopping for the things that will earn you more money - and more trips to the mall!

Shop for Contacts and Connections

This is prime time for making contacts and connections through targeted networking and prospecting. Just because business might be slow doesn't mean that there is no business to be had. In fact, you just might find less competition (thanks to downsizing) out there in the marketplace. Remember, even in a down economic period, purchasing still occurs. Many prospects might be unhappy with their current suppliers and looking for better pricing and customer service. Don't get discouraged by the news. Be encouraged that there are new customers out there waiting for you to find them.

Shop for Knowledge
Do you have a little extra time on your hands because business has been slow? Well, instead of dwelling on the negative, sharpen your skills and improve your abilities. Invest in some low cost webinars and teleclasses to upgrade your knowledge base. Take the time to get up to speed on your industry and competitors. And, fine-tune your technology skills to improve your ability to sell and serve your customers.

Shop for Exposure
Rather than complaining about what's not happening with business, develop new ways to increase your exposure within your industry. Research speaking opportunities at upcoming conferences and tradeshows. Offer to write an article for a publication that's read by your customers. Teach a class at the local library or college. The more your name is out there, the more business you'll generate - even when times are tough.

Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm that she founded in 1989, delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting for your unique business. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also a sought-after conference speaker, and an accomplished author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself." -- Oprah Winfrey

Have you ever agonized over an account, wondering whether you should call or email, send a gift, or set up a lunch? Instead of hemming and hawing, go with your instincts. Even if it doesn't work out, you'll have resolution and more time to spend on other accounts.