Friday, January 30, 2009

Cold Calling Rules for the 21st Century - Part 2

Yesterday telesales expert Wendy Weiss started off a three-part series on cold calling rules for the 21st century, sharing how having a targeted list is much better than dialing number after number. Here's new rule number two:

Answer your prospect's question: Why should they be interested?

In addition to having a targeted list, your approach must be targeted to the market and the individual that you are calling. It must be relevant. There is no generic approach that will work. Preparation counts, big time. Ask yourself these questions:

--What are your prospects' challenges?
--What is their history?
--What's happening now?
--What problems do you solve for your customers?
--What problems can you potentially solve for your prospects?
--How do you help your customers?

In order to create an approach that will resonate with prospects you must dig deeply to understand them. Do your homework and do the research. They will not tell you; they'll expect you to know. Prospects today are busy; they are bombarded from all sides. If you want to get their attention on a prospecting call you need to have something compelling to say. It must be relevant. Truly understanding your prospects and their situations will help you craft an approach that will enable you to have a productive conversation with them.

Have a wonderful weekend! We'll finish this series next week.

Learn more from cold calling expert Wendy Weiss at or email her at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cold Calling Rules for the 21st Century

Are you following outdated cold calling techniques like "everyone is a prospect" or "cold calling is a numbers game"? If so, you'll eventually reach your customers - but it will take more time than it should. Here telesales expert Wendy Weiss offers up some tips that will have you dialing for dollars - not dismissals.

Have a targeted list

Before starting a cold calling campaign create a profile of the ideal prospects you are trying to reach. What that means is that out of everyone in the entire world who might buy what you sell, who is most likely to? Who is most likely to buy a lot of what you sell and then keep returning to buy more?

Describe this ideal customer in specific detail. Use criteria like: What industry? Where are they located? What is the title of the decision-maker? Does this market have challenges or issues that your product or service can solve? If you are calling in the consumer market, what are the demographics of your ideal prospects? Where do they live? Work? Go to school? These are your "qualifying parameters," the parameters that describe your ideal prospect who is likely to buy, buy a lot and come back to buy more. Then, only call the leads that fit your "ideal customer profile." If a prospect does not meet your parameters, they are not a qualified prospect. You will spin your wheels and waste your time trying to reach them and they will not buy or not buy very much.

In business-to-business calls make sure to only call the highest-level person you believe is the decision-maker. If that person is not the decision-maker, they'll be able to tell you who is. Far too many sales professionals and business owners waste their time calling too low. They do this with the idea that somehow the calls will be easier. They won't. This will simply waste your time and extend your sales cycle. If you are not speaking with a decision-maker, you are not speaking with a qualified prospect. If you are not speaking with a qualified prospect, they will never buy from you.

Check back in tomorrow for more from of Weiss' updated cold calling tips.

Learn more from cold calling expert Wendy Weiss at or email her at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eye Contact: Intimidation or Positive Communication?

Eye contact is an important part of building trust and relationships. It shows people you respect them and also conveys interest in what they are saying. But every once in a while eye contact can have a detrimental effect on a relationship, making the other person feel intimidated by your stare. This advice from Dr. Tony Alessandra will help you make sure your eye contact fosters rapport instead of inhibiting it.

"Make sure that when you make eye contact with others that it's not coming across as intimidation," says Alessandra. "If a person doesn't seem happily willing to make eye contact with you, consider your technique."

--Are you staring coldly? (As if you were a participant in a staring contest?)
--Are you relaxing your facial features and connecting warmly with the other person?

"Eye contact works best when it's not construed as intimidation," continues Alessandra. "Practice making eye contact with yourself in a mirror. Would you want to make eye contact with yourself during conversation? The answer to that question will help you determine how and what ways you may need to readjust your eye contact technique."

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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to be a Top Sales Performer

Sales trainer Bryan Neale recently posted a great piece on the Caskey blog about what makes a top sales performer. Do you have what it takes?

1. They think big

High performers think beyond the transaction - they think long term, big picture and any other overused corporate jumbo you can think of. You get it.

2. They work
While I don't believe effort = output, I do believe there is a positive correlation. The one basic element that we'll never be able to disprove: the more people you talk to, the more clients you'll have. Period.

3. They are terrified of failing

The highest performing salespeople (surprisingly to me) are often driven by fear - not a paralyzing fear, but a motivating fear. It could be a fear of failure, a fear of going backward or a fear of stagnation. Whatever, they do an amazing job channeling that fear into focused effort that produces results.

4. They maintain economic integrity
High performers know that THEY are a part of what their customers buy. They also tend to have very high self-worth. Because of that, elite performers rarely discount what they do. They may negotiate, but they have a true, strong, intrinsic belief that they and their service command a premium fee.

5. They expect to be a high performer
When the stack order ranking comes out, the best performers expect to see themselves on top. Average performers just hope they're not in the bottom third.

6. They work around factors out of their control
High performers look objectively at situations and work around conditions they have no control over. Average performers tend to see these factors as insurmountable roadblocks, excuses or paralyzing detriments.

What will you be? Average or elite?

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

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." -- Napoleon Hill

Not seeing the numbers you'd like to see? The current economy makes creativity and resourcefulness a necessary part of your job description. Take fifteen minutes today to brainstorm interesting ways to reach new clients and reach out to current clients. Put your plan in motion and you'll see what you're really capable of.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Preventing the Price Objection, Continued

Yesterday sales trainer Dave Kahle gave us some excellent advice on how we can reduce how often we hear the price objection. He's back today with a few more ideas - try some out next week and let us know how they work for you!

4. Don't advertise your willingness to discount.

Sometimes, in our eagerness to make the sale, we advertise our willingness to make price concessions in order to secure the business. We say things like, "We'd be happy to discuss pricing with you." Or, "We may be able to do better." Or, "If you give me the last look, I may be able to sharpen the pencil."

I was shopping for office space. As I looked through one location with my realtor, I asked the listing realtor what was the lease rate. He told me, and in the same breath said, "But we're willing to work with you on that."

After hearing that, why in the world would I accept his original terms? He broadcasted his willingness to discount, and I'd be foolish not to take him up on it. By broadcasting your willingness to get the deal, you encourage the customer to ask for price deviations.

5. Be careful about ever discounting

If you discount your prices in response to a customer's request, on even one occasion, you have conveyed to the customer the idea that your quoted price is not your final price. Now, forever in the future, the customer will remember that you can discount when pressed. He will, therefore, press for discounts.

If, however, you never discount from your quoted price, you convey that there is some integrity in your pricing, and that you are quoting him your best price from the beginning.

It's OK, on some occasions, to walk away from a piece of business rather than to discount in order to get it. The net impact is that the customer respects your pricing, and is less likely in the future to ask for a discount.

If you get almost every deal, your prices aren't sufficiently high. You need to lose some in order to gain the customer's respect as well as a sense of where the market price is.

I've often thought that the idea of asking for the opportunity for a "last look" - which most salespeople strive for and proudly proclaim as proof of a good business relationship - is merely another way of saying that you'll discount the most. Why would the customer give you a "last look" if he wasn't expecting you to discount some more?

It's so easy to complain about the customer and the constant pressure to reduce our prices. It's the thoughtful salesperson who understands that our own behavior can often be the cause of the price objection. Change your behavior, and you'll improve your results.

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, January 22, 2009

Preventing the Price Objection

How many times have you heard a price objection in the last few weeks? With the economy the way it is, you've probably heard it even more than usual. Dave Kahle has some advice to help you reduce how often you hear it.

"While we can't control our customers, we can control our behavior," says Kahle. "And many times it's our behavior that prompts the customer to ask for a discount. By changing our behavior, we can impact the customer. Here are five specific strategies to help you prevent the price objection, by focusing on our behavior."

1. Look like you are worth more

Our appearance impacts the customer's subconscious view of our value. If we look like we don't value ourselves, it's natural for the customer to assume the same about our product.

I will never forget a salesperson for one of my clients who came to see me, concerned about the pressure his company was putting on him to get results. He chewed tobacco and had the yellow teeth and spots on the leather vest he wore to confirm that. A wrinkled pair of blue jeans topped a pair of dusty cowboy boots. He looked like a reject from a consignment shop. His appearance screamed "cheap."

If you look confident, competent and successful, you send the subtle message to your customer that you, and your offering, is worth a little more. You just look like you are less likely to discount your price in order to get the order. Practically speaking, that means to dress like your customer, only a little better. Project a demeanor of a successful, confident salesperson.

2. Believe in your price/value relationship

Do you believe that your offer represents a good value to the customer? If you don't, it will be difficult for you to convince the customer of it. You don't have to believe that your product is the best or that your company is the best. You just have to believe that it is a good value, giving the customer his or her money's worth. More people buy Fords than buy BMWs. It's not about being the best; it's about a good value.

This can be difficult if you, in your personal life, are a bargain shopper. If you refuse to pay the asking price for anything and won't buy it if it's not on sale, then you'll have a difficult time convincing your customer to pay the full price for what you are selling.

Your core beliefs will influence your behavior, and be communicated to the customer in a number of subtle ways.

To counteract that tendency, carefully examine the offer you are making from the customer's point of view. Do whatever it takes to convince yourself that it is a good value to the customer, worth every penny the customer will pay.

3. Don't inadvertently sow the seeds.

Sometimes we can blindly sow the seeds of discontent with our stated price by our poor choice of language. For example, when we say things like, "This is our retail price," "This is our rack rate," "This is list price," or other such terms, we immediately convey to the customer that there are other, lower prices, available.

We have inadvertently encouraged the customer to ask for a discount. The word "price" doesn't need an adjective to describe it.

We'll be back tomorrow with a few more ideas from Kahle on how you can avoid the price objection.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's Going On?

Are you doing everything right and still not getting the business you used to? It can be frustrating to sell in today's economic conditions. "The unfortunate reality is that the power to say yes or no completely rests in the hands of your prospects," says sales trainer Adrian Miller. "Your job is simply to present value and benefits, overcome hesitancies, and guide them to want your solution to improve their situation. So, what if you're doing all of these important things, and your prospects are still not budging?"

Before you simply blame your bad luck on the economy, Miller suggests you ask yourself the following:

Are you 100 percent certain that you have addressed all of your prospect's hesitancies and concerns?

You won't be able to overcome a hesitancy that is unspoken or hidden. Take the time to probe thoroughly for what's on their mind and help them reveal the true situation.

Have you made certain that the competition hasn't wormed into the deal and caused your prospect to have second thoughts?
In many industries, competition is fiercer than ever before. It's very likely that prospects are also talking to your competition. Be prepared for this, and take the necessary steps to shine above others trying to hone in on your prospects.

Are you 100 percent certain that you presented to the correct person who has buying and influencing authority?
You can make the most compelling sales presentation known to mankind, but if you're pitching to the wrong person, you're not making the sale. Qualifying your prospects is essential!

Are you aware of any "big" change that might be happening in your prospect's company such as mergers, acquisitions, or changes in management?
These transitions can significantly delay decisions or require you to modify your sales approach. Don't forget to ask prospects about any current or upcoming changes that could potentially impact a sale.

Are you confident about your touch point management program so that you can stay on the grid throughout an elongated sales process?
Evaluate how you go about staying with prospects through extended periods of time. If you don't have a good system to keep in touch, you could be losing out on valuable sales.

Finally, if you've answered yes to all of these questions, don't be afraid to ask, "What's going on?"

Sometimes asking a question as simply and directly as this can give you all the information you need to make the sale or cut your losses and move on.

Adrian Miller
is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting. 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".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Five Ways to Keep Your Momentum

We're halfway through the first month of the new year - how are your resolutions holding up? It's easy to slip into your old routine, maybe one less call, or leaving a few minutes early. Unfortunately, doing that for the next eleven months won't get you to your quota for the year. Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, has the tips you need to keep up your momentum - through January and beyond!

Follow these Five Keys to Top Performance from Brooks and you'll succeed:

1. Make Sure You Have Monthly/Quarterly Goals: Most people have short-term goals, but few people actually have goals that go all the way to December 31st. Do you? If so, then do you have a definite production number for the end of each quarter, and are your monthly revenue goals in alignment with them? If not, then start by identifying those this week.

Next, make sure and write them down and keep them visible in your workstation or, if you're a manager, in your sales room. Everybody must know what the overall goal is...

2. Bi-Weekly Goal Assessment: Most people who actually set goals skip this important step - you must check in on and reassess your progress at least every two weeks (some say weekly). The problem with most people is that they see they are never going to reach their first or second monthly goal and so they just give up and go back to their old performance.

The Top 20%, on the other hand, are constantly adjusting their strategy, their approach and even their goals to match their performance. You need to do this as well!

3. Planning Your Improvement: What are you going to do each month and each quarter to get better? I'm talking about improving your basic sales skills. What books are you going to read? What sales training courses have you signed up for? What new scripts or techniques are you going to implement each day or week to improve? 80% of sales reps and companies have no plan.

If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Training is crucial and learning and using proven, successful sales techniques is the only way you'll get better. What is your plan for improvement over the next 12 months?

4. Record Yourself and Commit to Improving:
If you're not aware of what you're doing wrong (and right), then you're not going to improve. This remains the single most important thing you can do to improve every month and every quarter.

When was the last time you or your team recorded and listened to your calls?

5. Listen or Read Something Positive Everyday: I do this every single day, and the people and companies I work with do this as well. Let's face it - after hours or days of getting turned down in sales, you can get a little down. The question is, "What are you doing to pump yourself up every day?"

"We all need to eat every day, and we all need to feed our attitudes as well," says Brooks. "We all need to be reminded of the positive side of things, and, just like food, you need to feed your attitude every day. What kind of plan do you have to keep your attitude up every day? I have a reading and listening library lined up to keep me motivated and pumped up for the next 12 months - do you? If not, then start building one today!"

Mike Brooks,, is creator and publisher of the "Top 20% Inside Sales Tips" weekly Ezine. If you're ready to Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone, then sign up to receive your FREE tips now at:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The less I say the more my work gets done." -- Elton John

How's that for succinct time management advice? It's particularly true for sales. Think about it, the less you say, the more your customer talks, the more you sell.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Do's and Don'ts of Sales

This article from business growth expert Diane Helbig is a great reminder of the basics we should all pay attention to in sales. Even if you're a seasoned professional with years of experience, it can never hurt to get a refresher. Think about these do's and don'ts over the weekend - and go back to basics if you need to!

Here are Helbig's Do's and Don'ts for salespeople:


--Act like the person you are cold calling should know you
--Use email to cold call
--Try to pressure the prospect into buying
--Offer bribes to close a sale
--Offer objections you think you'll quash
--Promise what you can't deliver
--Fail to follow up

"Sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet day after day people are assaulted with these anti-sales behaviors," says Helbig. "They don't promote relationships or instill confidence and trust. Quite the opposite. They cause suspicion and distance."


--Plan and execute with a positive outlook
--Target Market
--Nurture Relationships
--Build a referral network
--Follow up
--Be honest, giving and a partner
--Offer what your prospect needs - not what you want to sell them

"The Do's may actually seem more complicated than the Don'ts," says Helbig. "Or maybe they seem harder. In reality, they make the sales process easier. When you set your mind to what you want to accomplish, you can then set up the plan for making it happen. The Do's help you create that plan. Take a look at the list. Plan and execute is number one for a reason! The remainder of the list shows you the foundation to build your plan upon."

"Think about your behavior in the past year," continues Helbig. "Now think about the behaviors of others. Can you remember times when 'salespeople' used the Don't list? Did you use any of the items on the Don't list? Remember the result? Remember how it felt? Use these lists as a reminder of what TO DO as you create your plan for the coming year."

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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Easiest Way To Make A Sale When You're Stuck

It may be the beginning of a new year, but that doesn't mean things magically changed when the clock struck midnight on December 31st. If you were in a slump before the New Year, it's likely you're still in it. If you're stuck, and can't figure out how to turn it around, you're in luck. Sales trainer Kim Duke has been there, and she knows what to do to get you un-stuck and selling again.

"Years ago I had a sales manager who said something to me when I was going through a tough stretch of selling. I couldn't close a deal if my life depended on it. He said, "Kim - if you can't make the BIG PASS then PUNT instead."

"So what does that mean? If you're getting down in the dumps because you're not closing any deals, signing those contracts or selling boxes of product as much as you want or need...then it's time to break the downward cycle!"

"You need to PUNT (which in football is a short forward kick of the ball). It's not pretty. It's not fancy. It's not huge - but it gives you a taste of success again," says Duke.

"My manager was right. I came up with a small promotion package and took it to a bunch of smaller clients and BINGO they went for it and it broke the dry spell of hard luck. Even more importantly it created confidence in me again."

"So get out there and sell something small to a bunch of people," says Duke. "Or sell a small order to a smaller, reliable client you love! You'll break the cycle of despair and panic you're feeling and start selling!"

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"See" What You're Missing

Sales trainer Anne Miller recently relayed an excellent story in her newsletter to remind us to look at the whole picture. The story and subsequent exercise are great for the entire sales team. Try them out today!

"As the pressure builds to develop business in 2009, it is appropriate to briefly re-visit the lesson of the story of the blind men and the elephant," says Miller. "You'll recall that three blind men stumble upon an elephant. Each blind man grabs onto a different part of the animal. The first man, feeling only the elephant's leg, declares the object they have come across to be a tree trunk. The second man, holding the elephant's tail, assures his friends they have found a snake. And the third man, touching the elephant's ear, announces that it is most certainly a fan. Since they do not have the benefit of vision, they cannot see the big picture -- the whole animal -- and, as a consequence, they draw the wrong conclusions."

"Similarly, in a difficult market, sales pros often miss opportunities to build business that they would otherwise have, because they often lack a way to step back and see the big picture."

The following 5-step exercise forces you to step back and see these opportunities in your business (allow 2-3 hours).

You can try this exercise by yourself or, even better, with your sales team. (Remember: Two heads are better than one.)

1. Select a category of accounts (or a single account) whose business you want to grow or win (e.g., the hotel industry).

2. Hang four sheets of flip-chart paper around the room. On the first sheet, list all the things that are Going Well for that industry. On the second list all the Problems or Challenges that specific industry faces. On the third, list all the Trends that could affect this industry negatively or positively. On the fourth, list all your Assets, Capabilities & Resources.

3. Brainstorm. For each item on the first list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do/combine that would add value to what is Going Well. (e.g., If you sell advertising space, can you offer an email marketing idea? sweepstakes? sponsorships? leverage databases?).

For each item on the second list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do/combine to help address each Challenge (e.g., an offline tie-in that drives users to an advertiser's site? a joint effort with another complementary advertiser, a give-away how-to booklet filled with past articles?)

And for each item on the third list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do to play off each Trend that is occurring in the industry (e.g., develop a new size/type ad? an in-room customized, travel CD? a tie-in to their loyalty program?)

Collect ALL the ideas that come up, whether they are practical or not. In true brainstorming fashion, build on one another's ideas, and don't immediately dismiss any. You will wind up with lots of ideas in a relatively short time.

4. Evaluate. Review the ideas that you like, those that fit, those that leverage your expertise and resources, and those that will have a high bottom-line payoff.

5. Implement. Decide who will do what and when.

"At a minimum, these ideas give you a good reason to see a client and bring him/her something new to think about, which helps build your relationship with that client," says Miller. "Does it cost you selling time to do this? Absolutely. But in today's competitive world, where you are only as good as your last idea, what's the cost of not doing this exercise on a regular basis?"

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Make January Your Best Month

"January is the time where you take your energy and your determination and put them to work," says sales trainer Skip Miller. "Working hard to get ahead of the curve? 2009 looking like the roller coaster we all expect it to be? Up and down, then down then up? Getting meetings but no commitments?" Here's some advice from Miller to help make January a pull month for you:

Ask questions
Find out what is important to your prospect in the first half of 2009. This is not the time to see if they are in the market to buy something that you are selling. Ask them what they are doing in the first half of the year. What's important to them?

Be a part(ner)
Your prospect knows that they don't have a lot of money, and do not want to take on a lot of risk. Fine. What are they working on and how can you be a part of the solution? If you are an oven sales person, your interest should be if they are doing any remodeling in their kitchen, or if they plan on eating in more, not if they are "planning to buy a new oven". There is a difference.

Call high
Need to go broad and deep in your current accounts? Now is the time for your manager to call his/her manager for a 2009 review of what your customers are doing in 2009. They may not mention anything at all on how you can help them. That's the point. Get a good idea of what they are doing differently in 2009...and then thank them for their time. You can get back in short order if you can help them, based on what they are trying to do, just not a 10-slide sales pitch on what you're doing different in 2009. Do you really think they care???

Pull, not push. You will find that your prospects are looking for solutions, not sales pitches. Crank up those listening skills about them, not about you and your products/services, and you will find them wide open to talk, and talk, and talk. That's a good thing.

A recognized authority on the psychology of sales performance, Skip Miller has helped countless companies, already at the height of success in their respective fields, achieve an even greater level of sales productivity and success. Learn more at

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quote of the Week

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." -- Warren Buffett

Your reputation is everything in sales. One negative comment or rumor can seriously damage a trusted relationship with a client. If you say you're going to do something - do it! If people are gossiping around you, go somewhere else. If a customer starts talking badly about a mutual acquaintance, don't join in. You can protect your reputation - you just have to be conscious of it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why Value Propositions (Usually) Don't Work

Bill Caskey recently posted an insightful blog about value propositions and why many people's value statements don't actually do anything for them. Check out his advice on what's keeping your value proposition from getting you more clients.

1. Rush Too Quickly To The Words

Teams get too hung up in the words too quickly and fail to understand the value prior to putting it into words. Value/Message is like a puzzle you put together. And we can't know how to assemble it until we get all the pieces on the table.

2. It's Based On The Wrong Intent
If we take a vendor mentality (bad) we will craft this with the wrong intent...we'll craft it with the intent of selling someone something. Instead of the intent of "helping our customers solve problems and realize opportunities." Your value story should "attract" some and "repel" others. It must take a stand.

3. Sterilized Message Speaks to No One
The message becomes too sterile and intellectual - and lacks the soul of the business. People make the difference so it needs to give voice to people (prospects) not just to statistics (although they are important too). Group mission statements usually end up like that. Salespeople won't use it.

4. Filter Through Old Thinking
Too many 'false filters.' This means that if we assume that a prospect only has 30 seconds to hear the story then we'll craft it for 30 seconds. I don't think Stephen King says, "I need to get this story told in 25 pages." It's more important that the story is compelling first - then work on how long or short it is. Prospects will carve out a lot of time to talk about themselves - not so much to talk about you.

5. No Platitudes, Claims or Opinions
Companies make this a bullet-pointed list of claims, platitudes and opinions. That doesn't compel a prospect to change. What compels a prospect to change from their current situation is if they feel they pay a penalty NOT to change. That's what we need to get to.

Apple has done a great job of this. Are their PCs faster? Not sure. But you don't find many people switching from Mac back to Dell. Once we tell this story, the prospect should either say, "How quickly can we get started with you?" Or, "This is not for us. You need to leave now." Either answer is OK. What's not OK is, "That's very nice. Thanks for coming in."

6. We Don't Change the Game

When you're crafting your message, that's the time we can change the game. Instead of thinking of ourselves as a traditional category (Accountants, Trainers - whatever your category is) is there another way to describe you? Are we OK if prospects lump us in that category? Is that what we want to be known as? Is that where we can grow and be profoundly successful? Change the game. Change the rules - and the results will change.

Bill Caskey is the President of Caskey, a training firm that specializes in training and developing B2B sales teams through face to face training, teleconferencing, written materials, custom podcasts and one on one coaching. Learn more at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Create "Ah-ha" Moments and Close the Sale

An "ah-ha" moment is a turning point. It is a flash of brilliance or discovery or just plain common sense that changes our way of thinking in an instant.

"In sales, ah-ha moments occur when prospects give themselves permission to buy," says sales trainer Al Uszynski. "They transform a customer with certain beliefs (i.e., one who doesn't need to buy from you) into a customer with different beliefs (i.e., one who is writing you a check.) Great salespeople create those moments for their customers."

"Ah-ha moments don't occur when your customer is glancing at a brochure that describes your company's history," continues Uszynski. "They don't happen when your prospect is viewing the umpteenth PowerPoint slide that details your product's capabilities. And they certainly don't occur when you show them the contract. If customers haven't given themselves permission to buy, they won't be signing any contracts."

"It is your job as a salesperson to help prospects have ah-ha breakthroughs," explains Uszynski. "After you've demonstrated your wonderful product and described the terrific value it delivers, inspire your prospects to give themselves permission to buy from you."

Here Uszynski gives us three ways to create ah-ha moments that turn, "Thanks, but no thanks." into "Thanks! Where do I sign?":

1. The worst thing that could happen is...
When you mention guarantees, warranties, and similar programs to prospects, you imply that there is a reduced risk for the buyer. But clearly spelling it out can really help you create an ah-ha moment for the customer. Describe a worst-case scenario that has a very positive appeal.

"Mr. Jones, picture this. It is one week from today and you just received delivery of your new living room set. Our hope is that you will absolutely love the way it looks in your home. But if you're not thrilled, just tell the delivery team and they'll load it back in the truck with no expense to you. The worst thing that could happen is that you get a chance to see this lovely furniture set in your home at no cost to you."

2. Use anecdotes that relate to most prospects

I once heard a professional speaker use a very powerful anecdote to sell his books, manuals, and CD sets to an auditorium filled with business professionals. His results were outstanding. On that November day he shared an anecdote about a woman who bought the $300 information package to help her achieve greater business success. Immediately after making the purchase she called her husband and told him not to buy her any Christmas gifts that year as she had already bought herself a gift. She then used the information from the products to help her earn over $20,000 in the coming months. Although her stocking was empty on Christmas Day, she went on a very nice shopping spree the following summer.

That anecdote was brilliant. Even I said, "Ah-ha!" Everyone in the room could identify with that woman and we all wanted to achieve similar success. The speaker had given us permission to buy. We had only to forego a few holiday gifts and we, too, could purchase the products guilt-free.

3. Rationalize the purchase

Remember those commercials from the early 1980's that featured Sally Struthers? She would give a tearful description of famine and suffering in Africa and urge viewers to donate money to help feed a starving child. Do you recall how she caused viewers to "rationalize" the donation? That's right. She said that for only 41 cents a day - the cost of a cup of coffee - we could help a needy child live a better life.

Notice that she didn't say $12.47 per month or $149.00 per year. By breaking the investment down into small chunks, she made it easier for the customer to swallow.

Realtors can use this technique to help buyers stretch their spending limits, explaining that an additional $10,000 for the home they really love would require just $50 more per month over the course of a thirty-year mortgage. Put it in perspective for them by pointing out that skipping just one dinner out each month could get them the home of their dreams. Maybe they could give up that daily visit to the snobby gourmet coffee shop in favor of a delicious self-serve coffee from the local convenient store. Or they might cut their own lawn instead of hiring a landscaper to do it.

"Ah-ha moments turn prospects into customers by giving them permission to buy," says Uszynski. "So find ways to help your customers give themselves permission by creating ah-ha moments every time you sell. You'll both reap the rewards."

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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How To Steal Business When Your Competitor Goes Through Changes

Has your personal or business bank changed names and ownership within the past couple of years? How about your mortgage company? I'm sure many of you have stories of frustration due to these changes - more paperwork, different reps, wasted time. These situations test customer loyalty, and according to telesales expert Art Sobczak, smart sales reps will take advantage of it.

Prospects can be particularly vulnerable after their existing vendor is acquired, merged, or undergoes some other type of change. Capitalizing on their vulnerability requires you to track who a prospect buys from. You must be on top of changes and able to sort your database accordingly. Then you place an effective call.

Here are some pointers from Sobczak to help you capitalize on your competitor's changes.

1. Set up a Google News Alert with the names of your top competitors. When anything happens with them and it appears online, you will be notified based on the keywords you enter.

2. Set up a Current Vendor field or group in your contact management program. On every future call, find out who your prospects are buying from, if it is not you. Then it's a breeze to do a quick sort of all the prospects who have the competitor's name in the field, and plan strategically-timed contacts when appropriate.

3. Call with value. When calling these prospects, naturally you don't phone with an attitude of, "So I see your vendor was just acquired. I bet things are a mess there!" Instead, treat the call just like you would a normal follow-up. But, be prepared to ask questions designed to get them to tell you the problems and pains they might be experiencing as a result of the change.

For example:

"Mike, you're still with AB Vendor, right? I see. With the recent acquisition, some of my other customers have noticed some changes in the promptness of getting orders delivered. If that is an issue for you, we have some options that might be worth taking a look at. What has been your experience?"

Again, be sure your opening here is not viewed as the "Just checking in with you" type of call.

"Every prospect you have not sold is affected by change at some point. Be the person who can turn that into a win-win for you both," says Sobczak.

Art Sobczak helps sales pros use the phone to prospect, service and sell more effectively, while eliminating morale-killing rejection. To get FREE weekly emailed TelE-Sales Tips visit:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Listen with Empathy

Have I been talking too much about resolutions? I know New Year's has come and gone, but it's still on my mind. There are a lot of things I'd like to do and change - including being more understanding of what motivates other people. This article from sales trainer Tony Alessandra is motivation to make just one more resolution.

"No matter how outrageous, inconsiderate, false, self-centered, or pompous the person you are talking to is, remember: He or she is simply trying to survive, just like you," says Alessandra. "We are all participating in the same physical and psychological struggle. Some of us just have better survival strategies than others. Thus, the obnoxious person deserves more pity than scorn. "The wounded deer leaps highest," Emily Dickinson wrote, and it is true."

"So listening with empathy means asking yourself, "Where is this person's anger coming from?" "What is he or she asking for?" "What can I do that's reasonable and supportive?" You are not everyone's shrink, and you do not have to carry the weight of the world on your back," continues Alessandra. "However, if you can think through what makes this person behave like this, perhaps you will be inclined to cut them a little slack."

Try Alessandra's advice the next time you're getting an earful from a difficult customer.

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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen." -- Lee Iacocca

It's never too late to make a new resolution - and making a commitment to write down tasks, appointments, goals, and dreams is a powerful resolution to make. Writing something down not only makes the idea or goal more concrete, it can also help you plan how you're going to achieve it. It's a reminder of something you want to achieve - and you can never have too many of those!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Who Seduced Your Prospect While You Fell Off the Grid?

Happy New Year!

If you've slipped at all in your prospecting and follow-up with clients over the holidays, nothing is a better motivator to get back on track than a fresh start. While you're getting back on track, maybe a little patience would be a good resolution as well! Sales trainer Adrian Miller has some excellent advice for salespeople frustrated with a long, drawn-out sales cycle. Practice patience, and you'll win the race!

"Patience is a virtue. Sure it's an age-old adage, but it's still very relevant when it comes to managing prospects," says Miller. "Too many of us, especially when times are challenging, tend to lose our cool and give up on relationships before they have reached fruition. Prospecting cycles can often be long and tedious. The key is keeping the proverbial slowpokes on the grid so your competition doesn't take them away. So, cool your jets and read these important tips on maintaining your prospects while they inch forward towards buying from you."

Be Realistic
In a perfect world, you'd make a presentation, and prospects would decide right on the spot that they immediately must have what you're offering. Unfortunately, little things like budgets, cutbacks, management approvals, and expenditure planning seem to get in the way.

Often times, your prospects might simply have their hands tied when it comes to buying anything right now, but that doesn't mean that they won't when the time is right. Find out what is preventing a decision from being made and when a purchase is likely to happen. Be patient and understanding, and you'll probably be rewarded with a sale.

Add Value While Biding Your Time
Ok. You've made your presentation, and there's definite interest but no movement yet. That doesn't mean that you should sit back and wait for them to call you. On the contrary - this is the time to add value in a relationship with a prospect.

Start thinking of ways that you can stay in the forefront of their thoughts without looking like a pushy salesperson. It's all about providing those little extras that show that you care. What kinds of little extras? Well, start with keeping them connected with a regular newsletter and email blasts that you send to your clients. Send them industry publication articles on topics that might be of particular interest or invite them to an upcoming trade event or networking get-together. You might just provide them with a useful new business strategy or a valuable contact through your efforts.

Hang in There, but Play It Smart
Prospecting cycles can sometimes drag on for years and then result in valuable business. Other times, prospects can keep you hanging without any intention of buying. It's your job to determine who has real potential and who is just stringing you along. Sometimes, it's hard to tell, and certainly, the best way to determine their viability is to ask lots of questions and keep them close during the process.

Finally, the worst thing you can do is to simply give up and let them fall off the grid without knowing if there was true potential or not. What you don't know will certainly be found out by your competition, who will willingly take the business from you!

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".