Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Winner's Attitude

Sometimes all it takes is a reminder of how we should be working to get back on the right track. Today sales trainer Kelley Robertson shares the characteristics of a winner's attitude. Apply them to your workday today!

A winner's attitude is the ability to focus on your long-term goals even though your short-term results are not on track. This is more difficult than it seems. Too many people take their eyes off their long-term goal when they experience a slow month or two and end up focusing on their lack of results. As a result, they get sidetracked and their sales continue to suffer. In the words of Earl Nightingale, "You become what you think about."

A winner's attitude means resisting the temptation to blame the economy, competition, or current market conditions when sales are soft. Winners focus on what they can control unlike the average salesperson who redirects the blame to take the heat off himself.

A winner's attitude means exploring different options and approaches to selling. The best sales people constantly hone their skills. They read books and articles. They listen to CDs or Podcasts. They take advantage of every training program they can including webinars and teleseminars. Winners know that business gets more competitive every day and they take action to improve their knowledge and skill. They work at incorporating new techniques into their existing style.

A winner's attitude means focusing on showing the value of your product or service. Unlike average salespeople, winners don't focus on price. They know that most buyers and customers are more concerned with solving their problems and getting a complete solution rather than getting the cheapest or lowest price. While average salespeople are quick to offer a discount, winners concentrate on showing customers how their product is different than their competitors'.

A winner's attitude is accepting the fact that you won't close every sale. Winners recognize that a series of 'no's' brings them that much closer to a 'yes'. Winners may not enjoy losing a sale to a competitor but they're not going to beat themselves up when it happens, providing, of course, they can say that they did everything in their power to capture that business.

Do you have a winner's attitude?

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"What's it going to take to get your business?"

Tele-sales expert Art Sobczak recently received a cold call where the opening statement started with "Hey, Art. Bill at Audio Duplicators. We duplicate CD's and DVD's. I was wondering what it would take to get your business?" The main problem here? Using "What would it take to get your business?" without actually knowing the person you're calling or their situation.

Of course, using this early begs all kinds of comments and questions from prospects and customers, some spoken, some not. Some logical, some smart-alecky. All justified. For example,

"Why should I even consider answering the question?"

"Who ARE you?"

"If you gave it to me for free, maybe."

"I'm satisfied with the company I'm using."

According to Sobczak, "The problem with this question, used early, is that it is much too early, and no value whatsoever has been even hinted at yet. I had no reason to stay on the phone with him, and he is asking ME to explain how I would give him my business! Come on."

Let's fast forward to a where there's a good opening, nice qualifying and need-development questions, a strong presentation, perhaps an attempt to close, and the prospect hems and haws with, "I'm just not sure."

Then, this would make more sense:

"Pat, we seem to be in agreement that this is what you're looking for, and the price is within your budget. What is it going to take for us to move forward?"

Here are questions I like to ask in the probing stage, especially when you are competing with someone else for a piece of business.

"How, specifically, will you make your decision?"

"What decision-making criteria will you use, and which areas will be most important to you?"

"If we are at the top in all of those areas, will we be the one you choose?"

"If you made a decision today, where would we stand?"

Art Sobczak, President of Business by Phone, Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople - both inside and outside - designing and delivering content-rich programs that begin showing results from the very next time participants get on the phone. Learn more at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Discipline is the habit of taking consistent action until one can perform with unconscious competence. Discipline weighs ounces but regret weighs tons." -- Jhoon Rhee

Regret can be the hardest part of the sales profession - or any profession, really. Getting your paycheck and having to think about how it could have been bigger, or how that one stalled lead could have amounted to a vacation or new car can be a hard thing.

That's why it's essential that you develop behaviors that keep you from having regrets. Set up a prospecting system that covers all the bases - email, phone, and print. The use it with all your leads over a period of time - that way, when a deal does go south, you'll know that you did everything you could to get it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doctor's Orders! Get Better Sales Results from Being Different

I've always liked the Whetstone Group newsletter - they give sales advice in the doctor-preferred format of problem, diagnosis, and prescription. It's fun - especially since it feels like some situations actually require a sales doctor! Here's their latest patient, and their prescription for a full recovery.

Kim, a ten-year sales veteran, never felt like she was in control of her sales calls. She felt like her prospects and customers were always one step ahead of her. She attended many training sessions and they all basically taught her the same thing: always ask for the order, use the same 2-3 foolproof ways to overcome the price objection, lead with, "If I could show you a way to fix that problem, would you buy my product?" She felt these tactics must be effective since all the trainers taught the same approaches. Why weren't they working for her?

Salespeople tend to be rather predictable and, as a result, buyers generally are in charge. They recognize the salesperson's approaches and have developed effective ways to deal with those approaches. To illustrate this point, have you ever been doing something on "autopilot" such as driving a car? You get too close to the car in front and you apply the brakes. In a dangerous situation you honk the horn to warn another driver. Neither activity requires you to stop and think. You're definitely not saying to yourself, "What should I do here? Oh yeah, let's honk the horn, that's a good idea." By then it's too late anyway. You just do it. That's autopilot. That's how we react instinctively to a situation. Dealing with salespeople is a familiar situation to everyone and we all go on autopilot when we're face to face with a salesperson. In effect, salespeople build their own roadblocks by being so predictable.

Prescription: Don't act like the typical salesperson. Do the unexpected. Try different things to keep your prospect off autopilot. Here are a few examples:

--Let your prospect know, "It's okay to say "no" if we don't have a fit."
--Don't jump on every "buying signal" you hear and try to close. Instead, use a well-placed easy exit or takeaway to get the prospect to sell himself, "Really, I had no idea the impact was that significant."
--Do your best Colombo routine, "I'm kind of confused, can you help me understand why that's so important to the company?"

You get the idea. Be different. Your sales results will be different, too. They'll be better.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stay Open to Possibilities

"I Never Learned How Not To Do What I Can't Do"

Sales trainer Tibor Shanto heard the above expression on the radio the other day, and was taken with the fantastic outlook it presented. Here are his thoughts on how it applies to you as a sales professional:

"As a sales coach, and in corporate life I can't tell you how many times I have seen good sales people limit their opportunities by taking up the opposite mantra, and strictly focusing on how to succeed at not doing things they currently can't, won't or even consider doing," says Shanto. "Let's be clear - we are talking about perfectly legal things done daily by successful sales professionals every day. As a result they end up making less money than they could, but more importantly end up enjoying their jobs less than those open to possibilities."

"What I have always been curious about is where they learned that they can't do what they don't do, especially having never done those things. I have written before about the "I couldn't do that", but this is different; in that case those people were reluctant to change or take on new things. Here we are talking about people who cannot fathom the possibilities, rather than just reject them due to the effort or change involved.

The freedom of curiosity that come with the attitude of not learning what you don't know is not only liberating, but makes life fun even when faced with challenging and frustrating situations.

As a salesperson, I am challenged everyday, I know how failure and giving up looks and feels like, been there done that, it's OK and repetitive. But the wonder of the unknown, now that's a high, knowing how it ends, but not always knowing what it will take to get there, how deep inside I'll have to reach to get the deal, is exhilarating. What will I have to do to get the next high; the next grade of nastiness is much more rewarding than the outcome, i.e. a deal and the commission. But not giving it a go because one thinks they can't do it is just average - which is not you, right?

Tibor Shanto brings over 20 years of sales experience to Renbor Sales Solutions Inc., from telemarketing to leading a global sales team focused on providing top end solutions. Tibor has helped to improve performance for sales professionals in a wide variety of fields, from financial services to on-line B2B specialists.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lead Generation Checklist - Develop and intensify your Ideal Customer Profile

Lead generation expert Brian Carroll has been doing an excellent series on his blog called "The Lead Generation Checklist". So far, he's discussed changing your mindset to focus on conversations not campaigns and how to align sales and marketing as one team. These are excellent, but I think the most useful to individual sales professionals is step three - developing and intensifying your ideal customer profile. Read on for his tips.

"When it comes to customers, it's essential to understand that there may be a wide range of people you could potentially appeal to," says Carroll. "But the customer group your business will profit and benefit the most from is the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). And, by prescreening potential customers based on the unique attributes of your prime customers you can determine the set of criteria that will serve as the basis of your conversations."

Here's the best ways to develop and intensify your ideal customer profile:

1. Get to know your Current Customers.
Your ideal customers are right in front your nose: your current customers.

Separate your good customers from your bad. Make a list of your top ten - the ones in your sweet spot. What are their attributes and demographics? Make notes about the characteristics they have in common.

Get on the phone to find out what these top customers viewed as the trigger points for choosing you. Ask how you have helped them. Use this information to refine your message to gain more leads just like them. Review the trigger events or attributes that led them to working with you. Once you understand your clients and why they have picked you, you can tailor your message around that.

2. Know the needs you can solve.
Now you need to figure out if you can be relevant. Ask yourself: What's the size of my market? Where is the sweet spot? What are their key attributes? Does a potential company fit into these?

In order to be relevant, you have to understand your potential customer's buying process and current stage in that process. You may have to do a little market research to find answers. Look for free studies, white papers or case studies that your prospects read. What are the issues visited in those? Visit websites frequented by this group. How do they prefer to be communicated with?

Search for applicable trigger events. What hits home with them? Is there new legislation that may affect their purchasing decisions and budgets over the next year? Common trigger events include changes in building, strategy, legislation, tactics, finances or ownership. Growth of any kind is a great trigger event as is recognition such as reviews or awards. Check to see if they are working with a competitor. Find out if there is dissatisfaction on the part of the prospect. Use any of these trigger events to identify how you can help potential prospects and become relevant to their needs.

3. Take down names and numbers.
Now that you have an idea of the companies that you think you can truly help, you're going to have to find out whom to start conversations with. Make sure the folks you are talking to have the authority to make decisions. Figure out which individuals are the key influencers.

Do you understand their typical sphere of influence? Find out what time frame they will make their decision within. Find out if they have budget concerns. Find out the angle in which they are viewing the problem. Are they worried about finding the quickest and easiest solution? Are they concerned with technical issues? Finding the answers to these questions helps you understand how these individuals fit into the buying process. You can then cater information to their particular needs or concerns.

4. Know when to engage and when to pass.
Everyone has customers that just didn't pan out. Maybe they were difficult to work with. Maybe it was discovered late in the process that there just wasn't a profitable partnership to be had. Hindsight is 20/20. They looked like perfect customers from first glance, but what do you see now that should have sent up a red flag?

Use what you've learned the hard way to avoid taking on those kinds of clients again. Create a profile of your non-desirables. Call it your Un-Ideal Customer Profile. Speak with sales and anyone involved in those relationships in order to gather details about what was and wasn't positive. Use that information to create a guideline and make sure that your organization judges all potential prospects against it so you know when walk to away. Don't waste your sales team's time with potential customers that you know already you can’t help.

If you'll remember that the ideal customer drives the process here you'll be successful. Know your customers, know what they need, and know the right time to initiate conversations. Refuse to take the time to find your ICP, and you will suffer the consequences. Sure, your lead list may grow, but chances are it won't include leads and future customers that fall into your sweet spot.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Selling Value In A Recession

While we're often told we need to sell on value, it can be hard to figure out what that actually means. How do you determine the value of your product, and how do you go about presenting those values in an enticing manner? Today sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer shares a few examples and gives some ideas to get your value pitch flowing.

Imagine what it would be like trying to sell $35,000 luxury watches during this recession. Well for starters, it wouldn't be easy. Old selling skills have to be modified and new skills adopted. For example, you're showing a potential customer an expensive watch. Customer says, "How much?" A typical response might be "$8500." A better response would be "The value is $8500." Instead of saying, "Would you like to try it on?" You want to avoid questions that can be answered with a "Yes" or "No." A better response would be "I invite you to try the watch."

Jean-Marie Brucker, is CEO of a company that specializes in luxury-sales consulting, and these are some of the sales tips he shares with his clients.

Personally I believe all salespeople should avoid using the words "discount" and "price." Use the word "value" instead of price.

Good ole Elmer Wheeler probably said it best in 1938, when he said you have to sell the sizzle not the steak. And the sizzle of course are the benefits. Jean-Marie Brucker refers to the same concept as selling "the romance."

What are you selling?

--Are you selling safety?
--Are you selling performance?
--Are you selling productivity?
--Are you selling quality?
--Are you selling luxury?
--Are you selling fear?
--Are you selling pleasure?

Here are two things to think about if you want to improve your selling results during this recession.

1. Determine what you are selling.

2. Prepare presentation statements that wrap your "Value" with romance and/or some sizzle.

Since selling value doesn't come naturally to most salespeople I encourage you to practice what you prepare.

Your sales prospects and customers won't get emotional about what you're selling until you get emotional and excited about what you're selling. Get excited and show some emotion and enthusiasm for your prospects, your products, and your company. It really makes a difference.

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, September 21, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people." -- Theodore Roosevelt

You may not really like some of your clients. They may rub you the wrong way, but you have to get along with them, and you have to make sure you're meeting their needs.

The best way to get along with someone is to find some common ground - get to know them as a person and see what you both enjoy. Even if it's just a mutual enjoyment of coffee, there will always be something you can connect on.

And if that doesn't work - grin and bear it - and think about the vacation you'll be able to take soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Power of one Tweet

Still wondering why you should be on Twitter? This story from Miles Austin, CEO of Fill the Funnel Inc., will make a believer out of you! Read on, and then sign up on Twitter to follow your favorite sales resources - including!

Early yesterday morning I saw a Tweet come across my screen from one of my most respected authors in the world of sales, Jill Konrath. Jill is the author of the #1 best-selling book, Selling to Big Companies , is in the highest demand as a speaker and sales trainer, and is the creator of Sales shebang - the premier professional development resource for women in sales. In other words, she is at the top of the heap. I have read her book, subscribe to her blog, connected to her on LinkedIn, and follow her tweets. Here is the tweet that she sent:

"Looking forward to @milesaustin upcoming series on web tools for sellers"

With that one tweet from Jill, I began two business relationships that are providing tremendous opportunity for me.

First I received an email from David Frey, founder of Marketing Best Practices and Telesummit Events. David saw Jill's tweet, checked out the blog and wanted to do an interview with me to feature as a bonus for the 4,000 plus registrants that are participating in his Sales Telesummit that is going on this week. I encourage you to sign up to hear some terrific sales speakers for FREE. I completed a 60 minute interview with Dave titled "15 Must Have Web Tools for Salespeople" yesterday afternoon. David is a sharp guy that has some tremendous experience and he shared a web tool with me that was new to me and that I am in the process of implementing today. There is terrific upside based on this relationship.

While doing the interview with David, I received a voicemail from someone else that had noticed the tweet. Silvia Quintanilla runs Industry Gems Sales Intelligence, providing B2B sales professionals with information and valuable insight. Sylvia said that she is a reader of Fill the Funnel, likes what she reads and wondered if I would be willing to write an article for her blog. We also started to explore other business opportunities.

Since that first unsolicited tweet from Jill, the tweets, emails, phone calls and registrations have all been impacted in a very positive way. All of this to make the point, Never Underestimate the Power of One Tweet!

Learn more about Miles Autin and Fill the Funnel Inc. at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Build Relevant Rapport

We all know we need to build rapport with our clients, especially when selling over the phone. But did you know that the typical schmoozing and small talk we're all told to use really isn't the best way to go about it? Today sales trainer Mike Brooks shows us how to build relevant rapport.

"If you want to truly connect to your prospect and build the kind of rapport that will actually influence and lead to a closed deal, then you need to learn how to build what I call, 'Relevant Rapport,'" says Brooks. "Relevant rapport means taking the time to talk about the issues your prospect is going through or what they're trying to solve, and then expanding on these relevant issues and letting them know you understand exactly what they're trying to accomplish and explaining how you are uniquely qualified to help them."

Remember, your prospects have a need they are looking to you to help them fulfill, and the more they feel you understand their needs and can help them, the more likely it is they will do business with you. So, how do you build relevant rapport? You start by asking questions related to their specific work related situation.

For example, instead of asking:

"So where did you go on vacation?"


"Now that you're back from vacation, I'll bet you've got lots to catch up on. How can I help you?" Or,

"You're probably buried now that you're back on vacation. I'd be happy to refill your normal order from last month and take that bit of business off your plate. Would that help you?"

Instead of asking:

"Are you excited about the upcoming football season?"


"As we head into the fall, what are your top three priorities for increasing revenue?"

Then layer by asking:

"You know _________, I'm working with another client who is facing the same challenge this quarter. What I proposed for him is to (then explain your solution). Do you think that might help you as well?"

The point of relevant rapport is that your prospect will like you more and trust you more if you show an interest in their problems related to business, rather than their problems outside of business. Just remember that your prospect is under just as much pressure to do their job as you are to do yours. Who would you be more interested in talking to - a prospect who wants to talk about the latest diet, or a prospect who wants to place an order? Thought so.

I challenge you this week to go out and begin connecting with your prospects on issues related to what they are doing for 8 to 9 hours a day - trying to get their jobs done. When you can show them how to do that better, faster or easier, then you will have truly made the connection with them that counts the most. That's what building relevant rapport is all about.

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:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Target Your Prospecting

A common mistake made by even the most seasoned salesperson is to use a shotgun approach when prospecting; in other words, trying to target dozens or hundreds of different companies. According to sales trainer Kelley Robertson, "This massive blitz works if you cold call for a living and need a large number of prospects in your pipeline. However, in most cases, this approach is not as effective as it used to be, especially in today's challenging economy."

"A more effective way to prospect is to create a list of 100 companies that could benefit from your product, service, or solution," continues Robertson. "Once this is completed narrow your list to a maximum of two dozen organizations and focus your prospecting efforts on that short list."

"The key to using this approach is to carefully research each company and learn as much about them as you can. Find out who the key decision makers are and the names of their executive assistants. Then use a variety of methods to make contact with your prospect including: email, voice mail, fax, snail mail, and face-to-face contact at conferences, trade shows, and networking events."

"During each contact, demonstrate your expertise and knowledge of their industry, potential business challenges and areas of opportunity. Give them insights to improve their business or solve a particular challenge. Do this on a regular basis: every 3-5 business days for the first two-three weeks, weekly for the next month, every other week for the following two months, and at least monthly after that. If you discover that a particular company has no interest or need for your offering strike them off your list and replace them with another company."

"This is a challenging strategy and it requires planning before you execute," says Robertson. "However, you will the results are typically much better because you quickly differentiate yourself from your competition."

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seven Ways to Name the Decision Maker

How many times have you gotten the run-around when calling a new company to reach the decision maker? Either people don't know who the decision maker is, so you're stuck leaving messages and calling people who don't have any buying power, or they're reluctant to give you the correct name, so you have to do a lot of digging to get the right contact info. Today tele-sales expert Wendy Weiss gives us the tips we need to easily reach the decision maker.

The first rule in "Naming Your Prospect" is to ask for a title not an activity. Do not ask for "the person who makes the decision to purchase..." Making the "decision to purchase..." is an activity and may get you a name, however, it will most likely be the name of someone who is involved but not in a decision-making capacity.

A better approach is to figure out what department the decision is likely made in and then find out who is the head of that department. If, for example, you know that the decision to purchase whatever you are selling is made in the Marketing Department ask for the head of the Marketing Department. This could be the senior vice president, or vice president or director. If you are calling small companies the person you want to reach is most likely the Owner.

Once you have identified the appropriate title or titles (there may be variations from company to company):

1. Check the prospect company's web site. This is the easiest way to find your prospect's name. Thanks to the Internet, many companies today list executive and/or senior management on their web sites.

2. Ask the receptionist. Dial the company's main number and ask the front line person who answers the line for the name of the person who has the appropriate title. Be prepared to throw out variations of that title as different companies may use different titles for the same type of position. When you are calling large companies receptionists do not screen calls. That question, "What is this in reference to?" is actually a request for information. Keep suggesting titles until one sounds familiar to that receptionist.

3. Call the Chief Executive Officer. The theory here is that Executive Assistants know everything. Call the CEO's office and ask the Executive Assistant for some help, "I'm wondering if you can help me." Tell the Executive Assistant exactly what you need and she will more than likely point you in the right direction.

4. Randomly change the general switchboard number extensions. If the switchboard number is 5000, call 5001, 5002... until you reach a human being. It won't be the right human being, but that's ok. Once you reach a human being ask that person to help you, "I'm wondering if you can help me." Ask, "Do you have a company directory?" When asked, most people are very happy to help.

5. The made-up name. Sometimes companies will not give out information unless you have a name. In this case, make up a name and then ask for that person. The switchboard operator will tell you there is no one there by that name. You then say, "Oh, (Made up Name) used to be the (Title). Who has taken over for her?" Many times this will work to get you the right name.

6. Ask a sales person. Call the sales department and speak with a sales person. Say, "I'm wondering if you can help me." Sales people will understand and if they can they will help you. Tell the sales person exactly who you are trying to reach. If they do not know the correct name ask, "Do you have a directory handy? Could you look that up for me?"

7. Ask Customer Service. Customer Service is there to help. Call them and ask for help, "I'm wondering if you can help me." Many times Customer Service can give you the information that you require. Again, if the Customer Service representative does not know the correct name ask, "Do you have a directory handy? Could you look that up for me?"

With these seven ways of naming your prospect, finding the decision-maker should never again be an issue.

Wendy Weiss is known as "The Queen of Cold Calling." She's written a bestselling e-book called "101 Cold Calling Tips for Developing New Business in a Downturn." Find out how it can help you sell more by phone here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quote of the Week

"You can't have a better tomorrow if you're thinking about yesterday." -- Charles Kettering

Doing your best in sales means staying focused on the here and now. What can you do right now to seal the deal with a client? What can you do to reach a new prospect? These are the things that make you money.

If you're still thinking about the deal you lost last week, you're not doing anything productive. When this happens, give yourself half an hour to go over what happened and what might have gone wrong - if you think there's something you can do to change the situation, then do it. If not, move on to more productive behaviors in the here and now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Avoiding Self-Sabotage

Sales expert Art Sobczak gives great advice that gets right to the point. So you know when he got this email from a reader he had a few things to say. Check out his response below!

"Art, an email I received from a vendor, in response to a question we asked about a policy issue, started out with, 'You're not going to like this, but ...'

"I continued reading, now feeling bitter. However, what was said was really nothing more than what we already knew and expected.

"I would love to see your take on something like this. A piece on the things we do to sabotage ourselves when all we were intending to do was soften the cold hard reality."

Pointing Out Negatives They Probably Wouldn't Notice
I was talking to a guy about some training for his small business and mentioned I visited his website. He immediately apologized for some things (which he perceived as negatives) on the site that I hadn't even noticed. After he mentioned them, I guess I did recall them, but really didn't feel they were negatives at the time.

Some people obsess about things that no one other than them would ever see. But, when they're highlighted for us, then we tend to see them. For example, red cars in the parking lot outside your building. There. Now I bet that you'll look for them.

It's All in the Positioning
I remember years ago when my kids were little, my wife made the comment, "I'll let the kids know that they have to stay at Grandma's house tonight since we're going out."

Of course she didn't intend that to sound negative, but sometimes we say things that can be interpreted differently than we intend (to say the least!). Leaving nothing to chance, I told her that I would tell them.

So, I put a different spin on it: "Kids! Guess what? You GET to go spend the night at Grandma's!" "Yay!", they screamed.

Giving TMI (Too Much Info)
I've heard many a sales rep talk too much about facts irrelevant to what the prospect/customer cared about. The danger here is creating objections.

A sales rep handled an incoming call where the buyer asked for information on a new calculator model he was looking to carry in his catalog since he had heard good things about it. Understand now, that the inquirer was interested in placing a large order right then and there for an initial shipment. Things were progressing smoothly until the rep added, "Now of course, these don't come with the AC adapter."

The prospect immediately changed his tone and said, "Hmmm, I didn't really expect them to, but now I'll have to think about this a bit." Lost sale.

Here are a few others:

Instead of,
"So you probably don't want to buy?", try,

"Shall we move forward with the delivery?"

Instead of,
"I imagine you're not looking for another vendor?", try,

"What plans do you have for a backup vendor in case you need something and your present source doesn't have what you need, when you need it?"

Instead of,
"I'll have to check on that for you.", try,

"I'll be happy to research that for you."

Art Sobczak, President of Business by Phone, Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople - both inside and outside - designing and delivering content-rich programs that begin showing results from the very next time participants get on the phone. Learn more at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crossing the Cultural Divide

Selling often means dealing with people around the globe, which can mean cultural differences come into play. Isn't selling hard enough already? Luckily, sales trainer Renee Walkup is working on a new book, and did some excellent research about cultural differences to help you when selling to people in other countries. Of course, these are generalities - keep them in mind, but still be yourself.

"Selling is difficult enough sometimes, without having an additional layer of challenges to our bag of obstacles," says Walkup. "However, the good news is, people are people. Customers want to buy from you (we hope). Part of the key to success in dealing with Internationals is to understand how they communicate and how they want to conduct business with YOU."

According the US International Department of Trade Commission, the top ten countries the US trades with are:

Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, UK, Germany, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, France, and Korea. Instead of going through each of these countries' business protocol, I'll just provide you with a few tips and hints you can use immediately to improve your closing ratio.

Canadian Customers:
Culturally diverse, community-oriented. Disagree with tact and have a pragmatic communication style. Avoid asking personal questions, being too aggressive and using exaggerated claims when selling to Canadians.

German Customers:
They plan, plan, and plan! They have a rigid protocol and once a decision is made, don't change their plan. They are impressed with academic credentials and protocol. Avoid too much emotion with them and remember to use lots of written documentation.

Chinese Customers:
They are all about making group decisions and not being singled out. Rank is important to them and bureaucracy is critical in their decision-making. Make sure you are extremely punctual in that if you are late, you have insulted your customer. Because seniority is important to them, you may want to have an executive or higher level manager involved in the deal. However, warn him/her not to be confrontational - it will backfire. A lower-key approach is best.

Korean Customers:
With Korean customers you might say that "less is more". They prefer a direct and concise communication style. However, if asked a closed-ended question, they will most certainly say "yes", even if the answer is "no". Instead, ask open-ended questions and wait for a more accurate answer.

Mexican Customers:
These customers enjoy using the hierarchy in their organizations, as well as in yours. This is important to them. Deadlines are fluid and they are often late to meetings, but you will make many friends through your Mexican connections. These customers love to network and connect!

Hope this helps you as you navigate through dealing on the phone and in person with those from other countries. Want to know more? There are thousands of resources on the web and many books out there which can help you. Happy Selling!

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sell with your Strengths

Sales advice is not one size fits all. One tip may work for you, but not for someone else, simply because of your disposition or the way you work best. That's why we try to get you as much information as possible, and vary the strategies we suggest.

Today we have something we know will work for anyone, and it comes from sales blogger Scott Sheaffer. He suggests you play to your strengths, and we couldn't agree more. First, read his advice here. then take a few minutes to think about what your strengths are. How can you apply them to your selling?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Choose not to Participate

Are you back from the long weekend feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work? I've often found that an extra day off or a small change in my thinking makes a big difference in my work performance. On this note, today speaker and sales trainer Billy Cox shares the idea of "choosing not to participate." I'm thinking of taking on that mindset when it comes to the recession - and any other negativity in my life!

"I recently spent a fantastic weekend with a couple of top producers from a large insurance company," says Cox. "Their business is way up in a down economy. As a matter of fact, they just experienced a record quarter in sales and recruiting."

"I asked them how they managed to produce record results. They responded by saying "we choose not to participate." I've found this attitude to be true with top producers in all areas. While many people predict doom and gloom and some salespeople look for every excuse in the book to produce less, the top performers choose not to participate."

"Those who choose not to participate turn off the evening news and feed their mind with positive uplifting thoughts. They understand that their attitude determines their altitude. Sure, they have as many challenges as anyone else. They have objections to overcome and rejections to deal with."

"So what do they do? They work a little harder and a little smarter. They reinvest in themselves and their knowledge and future. They attend seminars to sharpen their skills and network with empowering people. They choose what and who they listen to and the words they speak. They think winning thoughts and when someone asks them how they are breaking records in recessionary times they simply reply "Recession....Oh, we choose not to participate in it"

The key word is "CHOOSE." Because success is a choice, you can choose what you read, what you listen to, who you hang around with, and how hard you work. It is choice, not chance, that determines your destiny. Are you participating or are you choosing not to participate? It's your choice and it's a decision you have to make daily.

I challenge you to dig deep down inside and make up your mind that you are not going to participate in a pity party. You have to decide that you will never settle for less than your very best anymore. You must rise up above today's challenges and be a leader by making the right choices.

By choosing not to participate in life's negativity, you actually can make better choices that will contribute to your success. It's your choice to participate in success and to be in the top 10 percent in your field. When you reach this level of success, you get to experience 90 percent of the wealth and associated successes.

Of course, nothing happens without taking massive focused action. The top performers take massive focused action each and every day. They work with purpose and passion and a strong belief in their products and services. And, those who choose not to participate are the ones who eventually achieve the results they desire.

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

Friday, September 4, 2009

Don't "Over Respond"

When I'm nervous, I tend to babble. It's definitely something I've been working on, and this advice from communications expert Dianna Booher is a great reminder for me slow down and shut my mouth!

Keep Answers to Complex Questions Clear Yet Simple

"Answer a question clearly and succinctly and then stop," says Booher. "Continuing to ramble on about a complex matter can make the issue seem even more complicated and can cause the other person to give up in frustration."

"Give an overview of the "must know" information, then wait to see if the other person asks for further details. If so, you can always add a second layer of detail to the foundational information you have already provided. Let follow-up questions be the guide as to how much or how little detail is appropriate."

"With an over-response to questions, you may find that your discussion gets sidetracked on unimportant issues, and then you're forced to rush through key points to finish within the allotted meeting time," explains Booher.

Shoot for the simple and hit the mark every time.

Author of 42 books, Dianna Booher, CSP, CPAE, delivers keynotes, breakout sessions, and training on communication and life-balance issues. Her latest books: Speak with Confidence, Your Signature Life, Your Signature Work, E-Writing, and Communicate with Confidence.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Power of Third-Party Credibility

A quote by David H. Comins reads, "People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first."

It's a great quote - partly because it's funny, and, according to sales expert Bob Burg, partly because of how it leads us to see the importance of third-party credibility. Here's what he has to say on the topic:

The term itself has several generally-accepted meanings, two of the most well-known being:

1. Your credibility in the mind of your prospect based on the recommendation of someone he or she already deems credible.

2. The credibility you attain from others due to crediting another person with the information you are sharing.

It's the second of the two definitions we will focus on in this post.

A very strange fact of life (though not totally when digging deep into the issue) is that the closer you are to someone emotionally, the less believable you are in most other areas. On the other hand, the farther away emotionally, the more believable you are. Thus, when you phrase your wisdom, opinion, instruction as having come from someone else (a third party), the person with whom you are sharing this information is much more likely to accept it as true and believable.

While this would seem to defy logic, it is absolutely true. And, those who are humble enough to not care who gets the credit - and will consistently utilize this basic principle of human interaction - will find his or her persuasive abilities to hit new heights of effectiveness.

Third-Party Credibility is based on the human tendency to value the opinion/expertise of someone outside their circle of influence more than someone within (i.e. an outsider must know something we don't).

Example: Assuming some advice your children hear is the exact same, are they more likely to believe and accept it from you or from the parent of their friend? From you, or from a teacher? From you, or even some other adult that they have just recently met? Most parents laugh knowingly when answering this question.

Have you ever heard the saying, "In order to be thought of as an expert you must be from 50 miles out of town and carrying a briefcase?"

If so, then you are familiar with the concept of third-party credibility. The key is to allow yourself to credit the wisdom, advice, instruction, etc. to someone else. The person you are trying to persuade will much more likely believe what you are saying, and you'll all be happy.

The paradox is that by always giving away the credit (whether or not it's to Ben Franklin), you'll eventually be given even more credit.

Bob Burg is the author of "Endless Referrals," "Winning Without Intimidation," "The Success Formula," and co-author of "The Go-Giver." Learn more at his website,

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Email Remains a Mystery to Many Salespeople

Looks like a sure thing. You've got a hot prospect. You send an email. You don't hear back.

There's an art to getting prospects to respond to your emails. You only have 3 seconds, according to Kendra Lee, to get their attention. Kendra is a prospect attraction expert who has developed a system that significantly improves prospect response. Her one hour downloadable audio seminar with workbook walks you through each eye-opening step. She covers the nitty gritty of what to say, attention grabbing subject lines, follow-up strategies, closing for the appointment, and more. You can learn more here. Worth checking out.

Use Time as a Sales Weapon

Time is the most important thing in your day. You have to send documents by a certain time, make a call at a certain time, and catch your prospect at the right time. It's the same way for your prospects when they're making a buying decision "Your prospects, when they are making a business or purchase decision, use the entire time spectrum - past, present, and future," says sales trainer Skip Miller. "Usually they use more than one time element in their decision. Your job is to help the prospect to use these time elements to your advantage."

According to Miller, "prospects use three time zones to justify their purchasing decisions. They rationalize or compartmentalize their needs, place a priority on them, and then go forth and try to make a decision. Each one - Past, Present, and Future - will cause a different motive for buying."

Time Zones

Past - Decisions made for past motivations are restorative. They are being made to get something back up to speed, to atone for a mistake, to catch up to a standard.

Present - Present decisions are made for present or current reasons. These are ones that take advantage of a current opportunity or a planned scheduled event.

Future - There are a few decisions that are strategic, where prospects will invest now so they can save money or time later, or even defer their risk.

"All of the time zones are critical to your prospect for making a purchase decision," says Miller. "During a sale, the prospect will give hints that she is looking at multiple Time Zones. It is really quite simple: The more Time Zone issues you face, the more value you create."

Here are some examples:

"They said they need it right now because it's holding up production of their new plant."

"He told me, in a very direct way, the reason they are so hot on our solution is they have tried three other options, and this is their last attempt. They need to get back on track, and they see us as the way to do that."

"Strategic. I just know it. They are telling me we are critical to the successful launch of the new product they are rolling out in a few months."

"Questions with a time element in them will give you loads of information on where the prospect is in each Time Zone," explains Miller. "You need more to your sale than just your product's features and benefits. You need to find out the reason your prospect is willing to make a commitment right now."

"To do this, map it out so you can ask questions about the time situations that are most important to them. A good rule of thumb is to ask future-based questions to move the prospect off their current objection."

"I really am happy with what we are using currently."

"That's great Mr. Janovitz. However, over the next 6-12 months, how do you see your business changing, or your customers' requests changing that may require you to do things a bit different than you are currently doing?"

"Move them into the future, and watch their needs grow, and your solution appear. Just in time."

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Affirmations for Inspiration

Yesterday our quote of the week reminded us that optimism is an essential in the workplace. Today speaker and motivational expert Josh Hinds shares an affirmation you can use to stay optimistic when you're having a hard day. Repeat this daily, or write it out and keep it by your computer to stay positive and work better!

Here is Hinds' positive affirmation:

"I believe whole-heartedly in my ability to achieve whatever I set my sights upon. If others can accomplish the goals they set then so can I. Each day I take the time to review my written goals. I keep them nearby so they're never far from reach.

"I am moving confidently in the direction of my desired outcome. Each day I move further along the path to unlocking my full potential. I selflessly share my own unique talents for the good & benefit of everyone involved."

Josh Hinds is a speaker, trainer, and author on topics such as networking and personal branding. Check out his popular newsletter at