Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stretch Yourself

It's time to start planning your 2011 goals (if you haven't already!) and I love these tips from sales trainer Kelley Robertson. Try them out and let us know how they work for you!

It's that time of year when self-help experts and sales gurus suggest that you establish goals to achieve for the upcoming year. I, too, am a big believer in setting goals. However, instead of the typical advice to set SMART goals (Specific, Motivational, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-framed), I am going to suggest something slightly different.

Go ahead and start by determining the main goal you want to accomplish this year. Write that goal down on a sheet of paper. Read it. Look at it. Consider it.

Then ask yourself, "Is that what I REALLY want to accomplish?"

If you're like most people, myself included, you probably want to achieve a more. But, I suspect that there's a little voice inside your head saying, "Oh, you can't do that!" or "You won't be able to achieve that goal." That is the voice of limitation.

Here's what you do.

Keep that original goal in mind. It's important. However, it is now your base target. The goal you feel confident reaching. The target you have a high chance (85%+) of achieving. A target that will still push you but allow you to stay in close touch with your current comfort zone.

Now, write down what you REALLY want to accomplish. The goal that will take much more effort to achieve. The target that will push you outside your comfort zone. Ignore the voice that tells you can't achieve it. Write it down even if you don't think you can achieve it. Go ahead—write it down now!

Here's the power behind this approach.

You have, in essence, now set two goals. A primary target and a secondary objective which is your stretch target.

As you progress toward your first - and reasonably achievable goal, you will gradually start to look at your stretch target and give it more consideration. Eventually you will start to think about your ambitious goal more often. You will wonder if you can actually achieve it. You will start to focus on it. And you will begin to believe that you can reach that goal.

That's when an interesting mental shift occurs.

You will start losing interest in achieving your initial goal and begin striving for your stretch target. Before long your base target becomes incredibly easy to achieve as you focus your energy on attaining that bigger, grander, and more ambitious goal.

What I love about this approach is that you really can't lose.

At the very least, you will likely achieve your first goal and that is rewarding. You can look at yourself in the mirror knowing that you were successful in achieving your target.

However, in many cases, you will actually reach that stretch target which will inspire you, motivate you and boost your confidence. You will begin to feel like anything is possible - and it is. Even if you don't reach your stretch goal, there is a strong likelihood that you will exceed your initial goal which is also inspiring and motivating.

I learned this technique from a former boss and was amazed how effective it was in helping our company achieve highly ambitious sales quotas. I later applied it to my own business and experienced a significant increase in my revenues in a single year. I strongly encourage you to use this approach in your own business or life. It will make a tremendous difference.

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Always On

As the face of your business or company, people will associate your actions with your business - so, as sales trainer Diane Helbig says, you always need to be on. Heed her advice and represent your business in a way that wins you sales!

"As a small business owner or salesperson you are always on. You are always presenting, marketing, selling, and producing. Failure to acknowledge this will prevent you from being as successful as you could be. I dare say it can actually do harm to your business." excerpt from Lemonade Stand Selling

Here's why this is important. You need to know that everywhere you go you are a representation of your business. When you speak, write, network, etc people are learning about your company by your actions.

When you know what you want your company to be to others, your actions have to map with that goal. Otherwise, you will do damage to your business. So, don't air your dirty laundry or gossip about others. Don't complain about your difficult clients. Don't act in a manner that is contrary to your company's vision and message.

Keeping in mind that you are always on and being evaluated will help you make the right decisions and communicate in a consistent manner.

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3 Keys to Reaching Your Financial Goal in 2011

It's the time to start thinking about your goals for 2011 - and for many people, that goal will be about making more money. The problem with that goal is that it's hard to implement effectively. You need to break it into steps and be specific. That's where this advice from sales trainer Mike Brooks comes into play. Enjoy!

I don't know you, but for me this week between Christmas and New Years Eve is the week that I solidify my goals for the New Year. As always, I balance my goals and so set them in all areas to maximize my growth as a person and as a professional. I have goals for health that include diet and exercise; goals for my career that include income and professional growth; goals for creative expression that include writing and photography; goals for relaxation that include travel and leisure, etc.

When it comes to setting and reaching these goals, I have found that there is a simple yet crucial 3 step process that virtually assures that I reach any goal. I'm going to lay it out here as it applies to a financial goal, but realize that this method applies to the success of reaching ANY goal. Here's what you do:

Key #1: The first step is to be absolutely precise on the desired goal. For example, it isn't enough for your financial goal to be to "earn more money than last year." If you earn $1.50 more in 2011, then you will have reached your goal!

Instead, you need to know the exact amount. In determining that number, I always look at each month, factor in vacations, holidays, projects, etc., and then I add up each month and come up with an EXACT figure.

Once I have that, I break it down again per month and write each month's specific dollar goal everywhere so I'm looking at it each day of that month. I post it on my desk, in my car, in the bathroom; I know exactly what it is each and every day.

I also adjust it per my production for that day so it is a fluid and ever changing number. Sometimes it gets bigger as the week goes on, and sometimes it gets smaller (depending on my production each day). But the point is that it is specific and exact and I'm always aware of what my daily, monthly and yearly, specific dollar amount goal is for each and every day.

That's key number one.

Key #2: The next specific thing to be aware of is where each dollar of your yearly financial goal is going to go. Ask yourself: "What am I going to do with all the money I'm going to earn this year?" How much are you going to save by the end of the year? How much debt are you going to pay off? Are you going to buy a new car? Pay for your kid's education? How much do you have budgeted for vacation? How about taxes? How about retirement?

These are just some of the questions you need to get in the habit of asking yourself at the start of the year, and you need to be completely clear on exactly where each dollar is going and where you're going to be financially by the end of the year. Having this kind of clarity and purpose help keep you focused and disciplined, and it has a magical effect on how the Universe helps you accomplish your specific financial goal.

Now I know things come up, but when you have every dollar accounted for, you'll be amazed at how you can earn extra money to handle the unexpected. That's just how it works. But I have found that when I'm crystal clear on how much I'm going to earn and what I'm going to accomplish as a result of it, my focus is razor sharp and I remained motivated each and every day.

In addition, when you know why you're working so hard and what for, you're ready to put key number three into effect:

Key #3: Once you are clear on your exact financial goal and know what you are going to get as a result of it, you can now practice one of the most important parts of any goal accomplishment: acting as if you've already attained your goal. If you've ever read any book on the Law of Attraction, then you know all about the importance of accepting and believing on a subconscious level that you already have what it is you're trying to accomplish.

The Law is simple: the Universe responds to what you feel and believe to be true. If you think you're broke or that your territory is poor or that you can't do something, then you'll find evidence to support your belief and you'll act (or not act!) accordingly. If you believe the opposite, then you'll find a way to keep taking actions to accomplish what you believe is possible, and the Universe will provide you with the opportunities to confirm what you believe.

But the key is to believe it has already happened.
By acting as if you are already the top producer at your company, or by going to sleep at night already feeling the feelings of having accomplished your goal, you're acting like a magnet for the success you've already determined is yours.

By acting as if you've accomplished your goal, you'll automatically and easily take the actions necessary to achieve them. Suddenly it will be "like you" to come in earlier, to make more calls, to qualify better, etc. I have found that acting as if is one of the most important things I have done to catapult me into new earning levels and "being states".

And I have found that it ALWAYS works. Whether I believe I will or I won't, I'm always right.

There are lots of ways to achieve the "being state" of acting, feeling and experiencing your success in advance, but my favorite is to write and read affirmations that are rich in feeling and emotion. There are many books out there that will teach you how to do that and I recommend you invest in them today.

The bottom line is that when you follow these three keys to successful goal attainment, you will become unstoppable. There will no longer be road blocks, and no outside element will ever get in the way of your accomplishing any goal you'll set. You see, there is always a way to achieve anything you can dream of. And if you're absolutely clear on what it is, know exactly why you're going for it, and can feel and live as if you've already accomplished it, then nothing can stop you from attaining it.

I encourage you to use this week to put these keys into your goals planning for 2011. If you do, then next year at this time you will be reaching for even more aggressive goals because you'll have discovered the real keys to performance in life.

All the best for 2011!

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, December 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless." -- Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur

This is the time to start thinking about how you're going to take all those great ideas you have and put them into action. Start small - what's one thing you can do? Move on from there, and you'll see wonderful things come from your ideas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ask the End-of-Year Cleansing Question

Sales expert Art Sobczak gives excellent advice in response to reader questions, and the question discussed in this article is a powerful one - what do you do with those pending prospects with the year-end so close? Take Sobczak's expert advice, and see if you can close a few more sales before year-end!

Here's an email question from a subscriber:

"I've got a lot of prospects pending here as the year ends, but not a lot closing. What should I do?"

Like many questions I get, that's extremely vague and requires a lot more information before I could give a specific detailed answer. But it did get me thinking about a possible reason, and remedy.

I call it the Cleansing Question. Let me set it up first.

What percent of the people in your follow-up file at this very second do you feel will ever do business with you?

Sixty percent? More? Less?!

You're fairly typical if you answered 50% or less. It's not a good percentage, but typical.

Why? Oh, there are several reasons. Reps like to hang on to prospects, thinking that shred of interest might eventually turn into something. They're right: Disappointment, and a waste of time, usually.

Others stake their claim to prospects, tattooing their name on the prospect's record in the "system," just in case divine intervention comes into play and the person decides to call up and order on their own. These reps then usually pounce upon the order and say, "It's mine. See, has my name on it."

Ask the Cleansing Question
But, the main reason reps have too many "leads working" is that they don't ask the tough questions early enough. You need to find out if the person you're talking to is really a "player." It's always better to get a "no" early, than to waste time, effort, paper, and postage chasing shadows that never will materialize.

Here is what you need to do starting today.
Begin cleaning up your "non-prospect" prospects now. Ask this Cleansing Question,

"Mr./Ms. Prospect, we've been talking for awhile now, and have agreed that we'd be able to help you (fill in with how they would benefit.) I want to be sure I'm not bothering you, or wasting your time or mine. Tell me, what is the probability we'll be able to work together in the next week/month/quarter?"

Think of the possible results here.

1. They say, "Zero probability." Great, now at least you can find out the real problem. Or move them out. Movement, forward or out, is progress.

2. They give some other probability. Good, but not great. You want to ask what you both need to do to move forward now. Get specifics. Commitments. Ask them to attach time frames to the commitments. Don't allow them to continue putting you off. Again, movement here is success.

3. You just might get the business right now. Perfect. Sometimes all it takes is the nudge to get the boulder rolling down the mountain.

Do some end-of-year cleaning. Examine your follow-up files. Prepare you own strategy and ask the Cleansing Question.

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:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ask Strategic Questions to Create Goals and Visions

Questioning is an important part of the sales process - but you'll get more out of your questions if you think strategically about which ones will get your customer thinking - and considering your business. Use these tips from communication expert Dianna Booher to start asking strategic questions, and start earning more sales!

Most of us are busy counting down the days and to-do's until Christmas and New Year's. We're also gearing up for the coming year--looking at what worked in 2010 and what we might try in 2011.

Whether you're reaching out to an inactive client, giving a year-end summary to your manager, or outlining next year's vision to your employees, asking specific questions can help your audience focus on the needs of the future and sometimes even expand their vision. What must be changed, improved, or solved?

Focus on strategic thinking with questions like these:

* "If we were able to off-load some of these routine tasks and could free your own marketing staff to devote their creative energy on the new product line, how do you think that could pay off for you in launching this new product line second quarter?"

* "Have you ever thought about automating your back-office processes?"

* "In what ways do you see us getting a competitive advantage if we change to a totally virtual staffing plan?"

Your questions should start the wheels spinning--big time. You just might uncover hidden possibilities or solve problems you didn't know existed.

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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons From the Year

This is certainly a time of reflection before gearing up for a great 2011 sales year. One way to reflect so you can make positive changes it to think about all the lessons you learned this year. That's what sales trainer Drew Stevens does in this article - and there's definitely something to learn from it!

As I sat and reviewed the gifts of my life I am also reminded of the many things learned from a very busy and volatile year. It is always beneficial to have all the answers to the test before we begin but there is nothing that can prepare us for experience.

Here are some of the items I learned this year.

1. It is all about marketing. Whether you are in sales, are an entrepreneur or operate a sales operation with 30 people nothing happens unless you continually market.

2. Avatars. Today other customers influence customers. It is necessary to build a community that helps you create buzz and allure.

3. Referrals. We can never ask enough. The problem is many ask too late in the selling process or do not ask at all.

4. Value. Consumers do not make price decisions on service these come from value. It is imperative to understand wants and needs in order to meet the buyer's objectives.

5. Customer Service. The key differentiation in a service related economy is how well you treat customers. Returning all calls and emails promptly, being courteous and always available are paramount.

6. Ignore the competition. With the plethora of blogs and emails everyone can become an immediate expert and this only adds marketing confusion. If you are confident in your abilities and have the skills nothing else matters.

7. Self Mastery. Open your mind to learning everyday with everything you do. Ignore those that suggest there is nothing left to learn. If you believe that life is over.

8. Confidence. Becoming confident in your skills and abilities attracts clients to you. The very first concept is selling yourself and you.

9. Know your markets. Stop accepting business from anything that crosses your path. Only work with perfect clients in your market. Anything less is self sabotage and not worth the investment.

10. Avoid the poverty mentality and negative influences. There are too many negative individuals that can suck away your positive energy. Walk away from these individuals even if they are family. Positive affirmations keep you in the game and getting closer to the finish line.

What has your business taught you? Wish you'd learned some lessons long ago? Let’s hear your story!

Drew Stevens Ph.D is one of those rare individuals with not only 28 years of true sales and business development experience but advanced degrees in sales productivity. Dr. Drew teaches sales managers and their direct reports to create more customer centric relationships that dramatically drive new revenues and new clients. His 8-step process develops better relationships and a path to quicker sales is based on his widely acclaimed book Split Second Selling where he presents over 25 years of tested data that provides individuals with the use of the PRACTICE method. Drew Stevens is a passionate, professional, and personable keynote speaker and workshop facilitator; and conducts over 50 presentations per year in over 20 countries. Learn more at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the Week

"If not now, when?" -- Hillel (30B.C.-10A.D.) Jewish scholar

Every day matters, and how you spend your time is important. So think right now about what goals you want to achieve, and the steps you're going to take to achieve them. Then get started! Why wait until the New Year when you can get started now?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Twist on Getting Referrals

Referrals are an essential part of building your business - and this tip from the Whetstone Group will help you in getting more of them!

Problem: What salesperson gets an adequate supply of referrals? Most don't. For most, getting good referrals is a matter of chance, not choice. And yet, referrals are the best source of new business. Without referrals, salespeople are dependent on other prospecting sources such as cold calling, and cold calling is the least productive of new business development efforts.

Analysis: Why aren't salespeople more proactive in asking for referrals? There are lots of reasons and it all boils down to what the experts call "negative self-talk." It's also known as head trash and it sounds like this: "What if I ask for a referral and they don't have one? Asking for referrals will make me appear needy. Every time in the past that I've asked for referrals it's turned out to be a futile effort. Getting referrals sounds good, but the reality is that it doesn’t work." With this mindset, one can imagine how difficult it is to ask for referrals.

Prescription: Here's a new tactic for you to try. Often we invite customers to lunch or dinner. When the date is set, say this to your client: "Can I ask you a question? Let's pretend we were having lunch next week and during the lunch I brought up the subject of referrals. That'd make you uncomfortable, wouldn't it?" The odds of your client saying, "Yes, you're right," are very low. Chances are they’d say, "Oh no, that would be okay." A gentle takeaway ("Are you sure?") will confirm their willingness to give you referrals during the meeting. Now you've set the stage to ask for referrals during your appointment. Once the stage has been set, discussing whom they might be able to refer you to will be easy.

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, December 16, 2010

Keeping Customers Focused

I'm usually a positive person, but even I can get caught up in the gloom and doom of the economy from time to time. Today's article from sales trainer Joe Guertin reminds us of the perils of commiserating over the negatives.

"The Economy" should not be a one-size-fits-all excuse for poor performance. Still, in the words of the immortal Al McGuire, it's not "all seashells and balloons" yet. That's nothing to get down about. It's the ebb and flow of the overall economy and something salespeople need to learn to deal with.

When it comes to our customers' mindset, however, that's another matter.

Do you find yourself getting caught up in any 'aint it awful' conversations? These encounters start with one of you commenting on a tough situation or experience and disintegrates into an all-out sob-session about how bad things are. There's one outcome: you lose and they lose. Sure, you can't go all Pollyanna on them, either, pretending that it's just great, but you can (and should) be the bearer of solutions.

Come bearing solutions, not a shoulder to cry on. Having those 'aint it awful' conversations might feel like bonding moments, but they'll do more to harm your long-term prospects that being solution-minded will.

Talking to or seeing more prospective customers. That might mean more networking, appointments or cold calls. True statement: "someone is always buying." Our job in sales is to find them. If you've been to one of my Streetfighter Selling workshops, you know the power of using a mix of old school strategies with new technologies to maximize your time...and productivity.

You can't make it all "seashells and balloons," but it will help get customers thinking and acting more positively.

Joe Guertin is an advertising sales trainer, speaker and coach. His programs have informed and entertained sales professionals nationwide. Visit his Sales Resource Center at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Earn the Right

This is a great article from sales trainer that reminds us that we have to work to earn the respect of our clients!

A sales manager I used to work with often used the phrase, "Earn the right." He was an old-school sales guy who correctly believed that it was essential to earn the right to not only ask for the sale, but to move through the sales process. Here are four situations when you should "earn the right."

Earn the right to ask for an appointment by changing your opening dialogue to reflect your expertise and credibility. Pique your prospect's attention by outlining a potential problem they may be facing and how you might be able to help.

Earn the right to ask tough penetrating questions by demonstrating that you have done pre-call, pre-meeting research. Don't waste a decision maker's time by asking weak questions that could have been answered by a five minute browse through their website.

Earn the right to discuss your product, service or solution by showing that you have listened to, and fully understood, your prospect's situation, concerns, and issues. Before you begin talking about your solution, briefly recap your understanding of these issues.

Earn the right to move the sales process forward by clearly demonstrating how your solution will benefit your prospect or customer. Avoid discussing elements of your offering that have little or no relevance to your prospect's situation

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, December 14, 2010

No More Small Thinking

Sales trainer Tom Reilly gives great advice that is motivating and encouraging. He tells people how to change their thinking and their sales!

As we slog our way out of the Great Recession, one of the more insidious aftereffects is small thinking. It appears that the Great Recession has had a psychological impact that may eclipse the economic impact. I hear that the new definition of winning is "not losing," and that flat is the new "up." When asking people about their business, I have heard way too many choruses of "Well, we're keeping the lights on."

When did keeping the lights on become the new standard for success? When did not losing sales become a standard of excellence? When did flat become up? This is small thinking. We can do better than this. Flat is not up. Winning is more than not losing. For those of us in the United States (all due respect to my global readers), we live in the most opportunity-rich part of the world. People are climbing over our borders for the opportunity to take a stab at success US-style.

If you are satisfied with just keeping the lights on, you need to dream bigger. If your hopes and aspirations do not make your bones itch, you are suffering from small thinking. That is no way to approach 2011. Plan for bigger results next year. Plan to win—and I mean really win! Make 2011 the year that you gain traction in your market. You can do better than flat. Think bigger.

Tom Reilly, president of Tom Reilly Training, is an authority on value-added selling, and speaks to thousands of salespeople and managers annually on increasing their value to their company and customers. Learn more at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." -- Andrew Carnegie, Industrialist

As the holidays get closer, it gets easier and easier for things to fall a little behind. But everyone's so busy, it doesn't really matter, right? No!

Especially around this time of year, be someone who keeps their promises fully and delivers what you say you'll deliver. People will notice, and the fact that you're continuing to shine, even during the busy holiday season, will only make you stand out more in their minds!

Friday, December 10, 2010

SalesDog Quick Tip

I really like the short quick tips - they offer something to think about while you drink your first cup of coffee! Today's tip is from Mike Brooks, author of "The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts".

The best way to handle a price objection is to say, "I can certainly understand that price would be a concern. Setting that aside, does the solution I recommended fit your needs?" You need to know if your solution is the right one before you address the price. If it's right, you can now use cost justification strategies.

Quick and easy!

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeping the Clients You Have

Business coach Diane Helbig has a great book out called Lemonade Stand Selling, in which she offers practical advice anyone can use to increase their sales. Her take on customer service is important - you make more money when you keep the clients you already have, and customer service is the way to keep them!

"In this global economy where industries are more and more competitive and commoditized, customer service can be the only thing separating you from your competition." excerpt from Lemonade Stand Selling

Unfortunately, too many people are so focus on the next sale that they fail to pay any attention to their current clients. It's not that they take them for granted - though that might be the case in some instances. It's that they aren't thinking about it.

When we do a good job, meet the need, complete the task, we assume that our clients are happy. We assume that they'll stay with us and even do more business with us. That's not necessarily the case. If you aren't communicating with your client chances are your competition is. If they don't feel appreciated, they'll go someplace else.

Dan Kennedy conducted a study a while back and found out that the biggest reason customers leave their vendors is because they don't feel appreciated. 68% of those who leave. That's a huge number! It isn't price, quality, or service; it's appreciation. The way I read this, if you aren't communicating with your client after the sale you are telling them you don't really appreciate them. Sure, you appreciated the initial sale, but after that? Well, . . .

Customer service includes paying attention to your clients. Finding out what's going on with them; what they need; where they're going. When you get involved with your clients on this level you become their partner. They want to stay with you because they know you have their best interest in mind.

So, ask yourself how well you are communicating with your clients. How well do you know them? Then, go deeper, do better. You'll be glad you did.

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop Putting Off Till January What You Should Do Now

We've featured this article in the past, but I think it so important that I could probably run it every year around this time and feel like I was still offering fresh content. You know why? Because salespeople, including myself, fall into the "leave it till January" trap so easily! Today sales trainer Mark Hunter reminds us of the peril of pushing work off during the holidays.

This can be an interesting time of the year when it comes to sales motivation, as it can either plummet or soar. Before we get any closer to the end of the year, take a minute and develop a list of the key things you need to get accomplished in January 2011 and the 1st quarter of 2011.

I'm not telling you to take your eye off the ball in terms of maximizing your year-end results, but what I am saying is to be careful in how you deal with issues that pop up over the next couple of weeks — and the tendency to say to yourself or even tell the customer how you can "take care of it in January."

For many salespeople, myself included, January is a very busy month. If I'm not careful, I can very easily over extend myself with customers. When you over extend yourself, all you're doing is making your 2011 sales goals that much harder to meet.

Yes, there will be things that get pushed from December into January and that is to be expected. The key is to make sure you don't suddenly find yourself waking up on January 2, 2011, to a schedule and client project list that is unattainable. Talk about a hit to your sales motivation.

One strategy you can use right now when confronted with those customers that want to push things off until 2011 is to be upfront with them and tell them how your January is already quite full. Mention that you may not be able to deliver them the same quality of service you can now while there's still time in 2010.

I've found the best approach with a customer is to be upfront with them (assuming your January schedule is already fairly full.) Customer and prospects will appreciate the candor, rather than being told one thing now only to have it go unfulfilled in January.

Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

4 Strategies for Beating Your Competition

Strategies to beat my competition? Yes, please! Here's some great advice from sales trainer Tessa Stowe.

Today's marketplace is getting more and more competitive. It's because there are more and more players, some of whom will offer ridiculously low prices in an attempt to make a sale. So how can you stand out and differentiate yourself, even if your product is a commodity? How can you beat your competition without having to lower your prices? It can be easier than you think if you start using the following four sales strategies.

Strategy One: Sell only to those that are going to buy.

Competitors will be bending over backwards to do whatever the prospect says in the hope that they can persuade them to buy from them. Your competition will make presentations, give demonstrations, write proposals and jump through any hoops the prospect puts in front of them. This is true even if the prospects do not intend to buy anything from anyone right now, or if their solutions are not the right fit.

You are a professional and your time is valuable. So you can only afford to spend your time selling to those who are going to buy from someone now and if your solution is the right fit for them. You need to effectively interview - qualify - your prospects before starting your sales process. Even if a prospect asks you to come and present your solution, convey that you are happy to do that but they need to answer some questions first. Be polite but firm, and be prepared to walk away if they don't qualify or will not spend the time with you to see if they do. You'll stand out from your competition with this approach. Let them waste their time, but don't waste yours.

Strategy Two: Do not try to persuade or convince.

Instead of being persuasive and trying to convince your prospect to buy, explain how you can help them solve their problem and why you are the best one to do that. Be completely unattached as to whether they say yes or no to you. You'll stand out by the fact you are not trying to push them into a sale. Instead you are trying to help them make the best decision for them. Your confident approach will pull them towards you while your competitor's desperate approach will push them away.

Strategy Three: Sell unique results, not your products.

Your competition will have no doubt fallen into the trap of selling their products as they think that is what people buy. They'll be trying to show how their widget is the best widget as it has the "x" feature etc. You can stand out by selling what people really want to buy: an end result or a business outcome. Your product is only one component of that outcome. Sell all the other components as well. Even if your product is a commodity, how you deliver the outcome can be unique. How you deliver and assure support and service can be unique. How you make your customers feel can be unique. Convey and sell this uniqueness. If you are not sure what your uniquness really is, find out fast so you can sell it.

Strategy Four: Do not focus on the sale.

Your competition will be focused on making a sale. Their sales process will reflect this intent. They'll probably be skilled in persuading, in answering objections, and in going for the close with a variety of techniques. They will not care if the customer does not buy from them again or refer others. They are only focused on getting the sale no matter what the long term consequences.

Stand out from your competition by having your sales process and your focus be about making a customer for life. To you, the initial sale is small in comparison to the additional sales that will result from this customer in the future and the referrals that will result. It also means that if you don't get the initial sale, you keep growing the relationship with the prospect until you do secure that first sale.

Just follow these four strategies and you will easily beat your competition. Your prospects will pay a higher price for the greater value of the results you are offering. Your new customers will want to see you again and will remain loyal over time. Try these strategies and see!

Tessa Stowe teaches small business owners and recovering salespeople simple steps to turn conversations into clients without being sales-y or pushy. Her FREE monthly Sales Conversation newsletter is full of tips on how to sell your services by just being yourself. Sign up now at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Week

"No matter what it is, pick yourself up and go on to the next project." -- Shelley Duvall, actress

We're getting close to the end of the year, and if 2010 has been a tough year for you, then look to 2011 as a time for you to reach new goals and try new things. Think creatively, be strong, and be ready to try new things. Whatever your goals, you can reach them with hard work and dedication!

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Are Selling

Sometimes we get so lost in trying to build rapport, relationships, and client friendships, that we forget what we're actually doing - selling! Here's a great reminder (or wake-up call!) from sales trainer and cold calling expert Wendy Weiss.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a new client. He was describing his company's sales process which they start off with an email to their suspects. That first email includes a link that directs recipients to a web page where they can download a complimentary report. This is the first contact my new client's company has with any identified suspect. My client related this to me and explained their rationale for starting out with an email and a complimentary report: "I don't want my prospects to think I'm trying to sell them something."

This "I don't want my prospects to think I'm trying to sell them something" notion is quite pervasive...and it always troubles me. Here's the issue: You are trying to sell your prospects something. That is the truth. And what's more, your prospects know it.

The idea that you can approach prospects in a way that they do not think you're trying to sell something is at best disingenuous, at worst it's dishonest. When you send a suspect that complimentary report (or download or sample) the only reason that you're sending it is because you've identified them as a 'suspect' and you are looking to start a conversation - a selling conversation. You know it and they know it.

"But wait, Wendy," some of you cry. "I want to build relationships." "I want to get to know my prospects." "I want to build rapport."

Good. That's what you're supposed to be doing. Why are you building relationships, getting to know your prospects and building rapport? It's because you want to sell something.

"But wait, Wendy, I really take care of my customers and want to build strong relationships with them!"

Good. You're supposed to take care of your customers. Over time, if you're doing your job, you will build strong relationships with customers. That's what you're supposed to be doing. But why? Reality check: So that you can keep your customers and so that they'll continue to buy from you.

"But Wendy, some of my customers become my friends!"

That's nice. Doesn't change the fact that bottom line, you still want to keep them as customers so that they'll continue to buy from you.

When suspects or prospects receive your complimentary report they make a decision. They look at the offer and decide if that offer is of value to them. If it is, they'll accept it. If they don't think it's of value they won't. Prospects know this opens the door to additional sales contact. The process and skill of your follow-up is what then determines whether or not that prospect becomes a customer.

Your prospects are not stupid. They know that you're a sales person and they know that you'd like to sell them something. It appears, however, the only people that don't know they're selling are some sales representatives.

Selling is what moves our economy. Selling is what pays the mortgage, the car payments and puts food on the table. I look forward to the day when sales professionals hold their heads up high and pridefully shout out: "I am selling!"

Learn more from the author, Wendy Weiss, at or email her at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Early Warning Signs

The Whetstone Group is a sales training firm that doles out practical advice in an easy to read format. Today they tackle how to recognize the early warning signs that a deal isn't going to work out, so you can stop wasting your time and move on to better options.

Problem: "What am I doing here?" Robert said to himself. He was twenty minutes into the initial meeting with this prospect, and he was clearly fighting an uphill battle. All his attempts to develop rapport were met with apathetic, almost frigid responses. His questions, simple and innocuous though they were, received little more than one or two word responses. "What's going on here?" he wondered. This guy won't even crack a smile and yet he gave me the appointment. Is he just having a bad day, or do I have a hygiene problem? He just couldn't figure it out, yet he kept at it, trying to pump some life into this dying appointment. He wanted to quit, but his ego wouldn't let him; he felt he should be able to breathe some life into this situation.

We've all been there. We work hard to get an appointment and are determined to take the sales process all the way through to the end, to make that "all-important" presentation. No matter what. And it almost never pays off.

Diagnosis: Some prospects just aren't worth the effort. Let's face it, there are "good" prospects...and "bad" prospects. In fact, a bad prospect is not a prospect at all. Any prospect that is antagonistic, vague and even non-communicative is a bad prospect. But salespeople, despite the obvious danger signals, are almost completely reluctant to disengage. The old "hope-a-hope-a" strategy is firmly entrenched, along with a liberal dose of denial of the obvious warning signs. This old adage comes to mind...if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably IS a duck. Well, if it exhibits all the initial danger signs of a bad prospect, it probably is a bad prospect.

Prescription: The good ones deserve our time and effort. The rest should be dumped like a bad habit. Every prospect must pass the first qualifying hurdle, or you must disengage quickly. There are definite warning signs, and fortunately, they show up early in the process and are easily recognizable, if you know what you’re looking for. If you can't answer positively to these six quick qualifying questions, your continued efforts with the prospect will probably be futile. Here they are...

·Is the prospect friendly?
·Will the prospect answer your questions?
·Does the prospect know what he wants?
·Will he give you access to the decision maker (assuming you're not at that level yet)?
·Does he want "it" in a relatively short time frame?
·Will he work with you on an exclusive or semi-exclusive basis, or is this going out to the entire world?

If you're getting a bunch of negative answers to the above, your prospect may simply be looking to pick your brain, and it's probably time to say "Adios" and move on.

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SalesDog Quick Tip

I love this quick tip from sales trainer Kendra Lee - especially now that things start to get really crazy with the holidays coming up! It's a great reminder of keeping your priorities in check - and if your priority is a full sales funnel, then you need to keep prospecting regularly!

Never be Too Busy Selling to Prospect

While writing proposals and closing new clients is rewarding and fun, remember to prospect regularly so you aren't back to square one after those orders come in!

Kendra Lee is a Prospect Attraction Specialist and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products in the SMB segment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Worst Way to Open a Sales Presentation

It seems easy enough to assume that you should open a presentation by talking about your company - after all, that's how you open an interview, which is just another form of a presentation. Right? Wrong! Sales trainer Kelley Robertson explains the detriments this tactic makes to your presentation.

Contrary to popular belief, telling your prospect about your company is NOT an effective way to open your conversation or presentation. In fact, it the worst way to start a sales call or presentation. Here's why.

Your prospect doesn't care about you or your company.

The only thing they want to know is how you can help them. Talking about your company simply does not accomplish this.

Look at it this way...

Have you ever met someone at a networking function who talked and talked and talked? Okay, maybe they only talked for a few minutes but if that conversation was focused on them, chances are you tuned them out real quick.

The same principle rings true for your prospects.

You have very little time to capture a decision maker's attention. That means you should open your presentation with something that demonstrates your knowledge or understanding of your prospect's situation, their business, or a potential problem they may be facing.

Many sales reps have been instructed by someone in their company to open their sales meetings and presentations with an overview of their company. In some cases, this amounts to a five-slide presentation that takes 2-8 minutes to deliver.

As President of The Robertson Training Group, Kelley has helped thousands of professionals improve their business results with his engaging approach to sales training and speaking. Learn more at

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The key is not to prioritize what is on the schedule, but to schedule your priorities." -- Stephen Covey, Author and Speaker

With the holiday season in full swing, your schedule is sure to be packed. Meetings, prospecting, gifts and notes, and 2011 planning are sure to keep you busy. So what can you do to get it all done? Follow author Stephen Covey's advice and schedule your priorities first. Don't let the little things crowd out the important things!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give Thanks

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. - a time when we reflect on all we have in our lives and give thanks for it. I thought this article from business expert Andrea Nierenberg was a perfect accompaniment.

Giving a heartfelt thank you is one of the kindest and greatest gifts we can give someone. Now as the holidays approach – it is very much a tradition to do so, yet what about giving those warm thank you's throughout the year.

We have this opportunity to do so everyday and I go back to my ‘5 penny tradition’ — each day put five pennies in your pocket and as you go throughout your day — give at least five special thank you’s to the people who touch your life in any way.

Think about who you might be thanking as the season officially begins:

T — Tell a friend, client, connection specifically what they mean to you and how they have helped you. Specifically let them know how you have grown or changed based on a comment or a piece of advice they gave you.

H — Have some humor — and make it heartfelt. Maybe you remind someone of something funny that you shared or a joke — anything to bring a mutual smile to your faces and it is very healthy to laugh every day! Yet-people are different, so perhaps it is very heartfelt and poignant.

A — Make sure to have an attitude of gratitude.We all know that attitude is our choice. Show appreciation as often as you can — never wait on these Opportunities.

N — Nurture every relationship that you work so hard to develop and grow. Stay in touch —be on their radar and constantly find ways to surprise and delight the people in your life. I enjoy learning things about people and strive to learn something new with every encounter — which gives another opportunity to take note and remember something special about them. Just last week, I learned that a new client enjoys ballroom dancing and found a book to send her on the subject which she did not have!

K — Kindness as my wonderful father, Paul would say –‘is a daily practice’. Find opportunities to commit random acts of kindness for others. My favorite line by Mother Theresa is : “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Everyday find a way to show kindness — or as my father would also say — ‘give everyone you meet a smile and a handshake’ — I think of him everyday as I do so.

Y — Focus on the other YOU –the people who cross your path daily. Learn from everyone as we all have a lesson to share.

O — Opportunities are everywhere — seize them! — be Observant — I try to learn from everyone. Sometimes it might be ‘what not to do’.

U — Think about what makes you unique — and keep a growing list. It may be simple — yet done with consistency and sincerity — it will soon also be your tipping point. Find the special and unique qualities about the people in your life and compliment them on that and it also a way of saying ‘thank you’ to them for being who they are.

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

The SalesDog blog will be quiet tomorrow and Friday as we take a few days off to relax with our families and give thanks. We'll see you back here on Monday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Perils of Discounting

The Whetstone Group has a great newsletter where they dispense advice in a fun problem/analysis/prescription format. It makes things clear and easy to understand. Their advice in this article is especially clear - think twice before discounting! It can have unforseen results.

Problem: The CFO was worried. For the past six months the company's margins had been dropping and now they were at the point where something had to be done. Finance had researched the situation thoroughly and the finger was pointing directly at sales.

Analysis: Ron, the new sales manager, was brought in from outside the company to build sales volume. Aggressive and optimistic, he was determined to make a name for himself quickly. In his eagerness to increase sales, he began to approve his reps' requests for discounts to close deals quicker. He believed shaving a few points off the selling price wouldn't hurt anything, and they'd quickly make it up with increased volume. Pretty soon, as his reps discovered that discounts were easy to get approved, they began offering them more frequently and they became dependent on discounting as their default closing tactic. Sales were increasing, but Ron wasn't paying attention to the bigger picture.

Prescription: Ron didn't realize that if a company's net profit before tax is 10%, for example, a seemingly insignificant 5% reduction in selling price amounts to a 50% hit on the bottom line. Look at the numbers. If you have a sale for $10,000 and the net profit before tax is 10%, that's $1,000. If the salesperson gives up 5% ($500) to close the deal, that's half the company's profit on the sale. It's real money, not funny money. On a personal basis, it's just like you and I giving up half the money we put into our retirement plan.

Discounting seems so innocent; just a few pennies on the dollar, but it can be disastrous. What seems like a minor concession to a customer in order to close a deal often has serious consequences for a company. If the company is publicly traded the analysts will downgrade their opinions of the company and the stock will decline, hurting shareholders and employees alike.

Instead of discounting, learn to create value for your client so they don't feel like they have to ask for discounts. After all, your willingness to give a discount may send a message that you don't think the value is there. But if you must discount, get something of equal or greater value in return; perhaps a larger order, an accelerated payment schedule or some other concession.

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively." -- Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States

Nothing could be more true than this quote - especially in sales! Although email prospecting can get you pretty far, at some point you have to pick up the phone or meet that client face-to-face. If you feel uncomfortable with this aspect of sales, then practice, practice, practice! The more comfortable you are, the better your communication.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You Know Your Sales Process is Outdated When...

Take a cue from sales trainer Colleen Stanley and remove the following things from your sales processes immediately!

Fashions change, seasons change and so do customer needs. So when is the last time your company looked at your sales process to determine it was keeping up to date with the times? The information age has dramatically changed how businesses compete. Small businesses look and act big. New ideas are copied quickly and lead to service and products looking like everyone else. Customers have more options than ever before with access to the internet. The market has changed...has your sales approach?

To quote late night host, David Letterman, "You know it's time to update your sales process when..."

Your sales process includes overcoming objections. Think about this archaic, distasteful selling technique that has been taught to salespeople for years. It sounds like this. "The first objection is never the real one. Overcome the prospects objection three to seven times. Keep overcoming the objections until you get to a yes." It's truly amazing that more salespeople have not been physically thrown out of prospect's offices! Put yourself in the prospect's shoes. Does sitting in front of a salesperson who is "overcoming your objections" really encourage you to tell the truth? Does this type of interface build trust and relationships? If you and your company desire a reputation built on integrity and non-game playing, seek the truth on the sales calls versus the answer you want. For example, if your service is one that a prospect could possibly administer with their in-house staff, bring up that possibility as a discussion point. The so called unspoken objection is on the table and a well trained salesperson can facilitate a meaningful conversation of pro's and con's. A sales conversation that examines all sides of the argument is smart, real and results in the right solution for the prospect and your company.

Leading Questions. "If we could, would you want to hit your deadlines? If we could help you make more money, would you want to engage us?" Now, what kind of a question is that? Of course, your prospects want to hit their deadlines and make more money! Can you imagine an attorney saying the following to a potential client? "If we can prevent your spouse from going to jail, would you want us to do that?" Today's prospects identify leading questions and know the salesperson is trying to lead them to your answer, not their answer. The walls go up and "sales dodge ball" begins. Prospects start holding their cards close to the chest and information gathering gets tighter and tighter. The result is a superficial conversation with no depth. Better questions to ask are, "Let's fast forward. What does it look like if your company continues to miss deadlines? Tell me your view on the profit situation if you keep doing what you are doing. Is the problem going to stay the same, get bigger or go away?" Your job as a sales professional is to gather data, not force and create data.

Selling features, advantages and benefits. The prospect asks the salesperson, "What makes you different?" Outdated answers sound very generic. "We increase productivity, save you money, have good quality and service." This is about the time your prospect goes into "sleep mode" since the last three salespeople answered the question the exact, same way. There is a well known phrase in sales: prospects don't care about what you do, they care about the problems you solve. The new global economy requires salespeople to be critical thinkers and well versed in consultative selling skills. The salesperson trained in consultative sales skills knows how to introduce compelling talking points when setting up the agenda for the sales meeting. "We typically work with companies who are taking too long to get product to market and as a result are losing market share. We work with companies who are tired of spending all their time in company voice mail trees trying to resolve customer service issues." Focus on the prospects issues, not your product and services.

Overly cheerful and enthusiastic. In the good „ole days, salespeople were taught to be enthusiastic and upbeat. Walk into the appointment and be high energy. Question: are your salespeople calling on introverts or extroverts. Probably a combination of both and the poor introverts are often bowled over by fast talk, energetic handshakes and overused expressions like, "how are you today?" The astute salesperson takes her authentic self to the sales call. A question to ask your sales team: "Are you at the appointment to impress or influence?" The impressive salesperson looks good; the influential salesperson makes the prospect look and feel good by adapting to their behavior and communication style. They pay attention to something besides themselves.

You know it's time to update your sales process when you are doing one or all of the above.

Colleen Stanley, is president of SalesLeadership, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, and hiring/selection. Reach Colleen at 303.708.1128 or

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't Make Claims You Can't Back Up

I think this is a great tip from sales expert Art Sobczak - and a quick change you can make in your approach to get more sales!

For years now I have been shaking my head in astonishment that CNN still--delusionally--runs the claim in their ads, "The Most Trusted Name in News."

Huh? The most trusted? By whom?

Without getting into a political rant, let's direct this to a sales point: Unsubstantiated puffed up claims can be easily challenged. Why even take the chance in sales situations?

I always bristle when I hear or see things such as,

"We're the most respected ...?"

How do you measure THAT?

What to do? Easy. If it's true, give the evidence.

"In an industry study, our delivery rates were number one among all companies studied."

"Our order fill-rate is 99.8%. That's the highest of any company that submitted results to Widget News in their recent survey."

We live in an age of cynics and skeptics, unfortunately. It's difficult enough to get
people to believe in us. So, show evidence whenever possible. Why risk creating an objection?

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:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Create Powerful presentations

Sales and business expert Diane Helbig's book, Lemonade Stand Selling, is a great, easy-to-understand resource for everything you need to know about growing your sales. Today we share an excerpt, and her expert advice to go along with it!

"When you think about what you hope to accomplish - the sale - your presentation must be created in a way that works toward that goal." excerpt from Lemonade Stand Selling

There is a structure to presentations that are powerful. They are short and to the point. They speak to what the prospect told you during the discovery process. They should begin with a recap of the prospect's goals and needs as you heard them.

Then you can introduce your product or service and provide bullet points about the benefits - once again based upon the goals you heard. You always want to be responding to what the prospect said.

In this way you let them know that you heard them and that you have a solution to their specific situation. Throughout the presentation you can ask for confirmation so you know you are going in the right direction. In reality, the check in makes sure that you did, indeed, hear them correctly.

Remember that sales is all about the prospect's needs. It is not about the bells and whistles of your product or service. As a matter of fact, you may never have an opportunity to share those bells and whistles. That's okay! Only talk about what is relevant to the prospect. THAT is how you win the business.

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too Shy to Network?

Networking can be intimidating, even for the most outgoing person. That's why I loved finding this article from sales trainer Adrian Miller about how to handle networking if you're a naturally shy person. Read on for her advice!

I know how intimidating networking can be and how downright uncomfortable it can make you feel. I've had participants in my training classes tell me that they'd rather do just about anything else than attend a networking function.

That's sad because business networking is a necessary activity, or some would say a necessary "evil". Effective networking helps you to make the contacts and connections that will (potentially) lead to new business opportunities. Steering clear of networking means that it is much more difficult to get the introductions and leads that turn into clients.

So, if networking causes you great stress, here are some tips that are sure to make it easier, and maybe even, pleasurable.

-When attending networking events, go early! By showing up early you will be one of the first people in the room and everyone that arrives afterward will naturally gravitate towards you. Additionally by arriving early you have the opportunity to meet the event organizers and even the speaker, should there be one. It is highly uncomfortable to get to an event late. It seems as if everyone knows each other and is engaged in meaningful conversation. The antidote-get there early.

-Be prepared. Take the time to research the group holding the event. Learn about their members and gather some background information that will help you in conversation when at the event. You may even be able to speak with the event organizer and learn information about the expected attendees. The more you know, the more comfortable you will feel.

-Have a plan and then execute it. Do you want to meet 5 new people? Reconnect with some past contacts? Knowing what you want to accomplish helps you to actually do so. If you enter the room and are aimless, you will probably not get the maximum ROT (return on time).

Most importantly, remember that everyone is there for the same reason and probably, some of them are shy as well.

Take a moment to gather your thoughts and then walk over to some folks and say hello. Ask them about their business or perhaps how they came to be at that particular event or even if they are members of the group. You'll be surprised at how fast the conversational ball gets rolling and before too long, you won't remember that you are shy at all.

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 author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it." -- Moliere, Playwright

I love the simplicity of this quote. Even if you think you'll never get that big client, or get a meeting with that CEO, keep trying. The satisfaction in achieving that goal will only propel you on to more hard work and success!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Prospecting Rules!

We all know the importance of prospecting for our business...but this article from sales trainer Wendy Weiss really shows you the importance of consistent prospecting. There's a big difference between the two!

There's a well known rule in sales (and in business) called Pareto's law. It's also known as the 80/20 rule. This is the way it works:

·You will get 80% of your sales revenue from 20% of your customers
·20% of your sales team will bring in 80% of your sales revenue
·80% of your sales team will bring in the remaining 20% of the sales revenue

The rule is true in business as well:
·80% of productivity will come from 20% of the employees
·80% of problems will come from 20% of customers
·And so on...

Pareto's law applies to prospecting as well. If you are brand new to sales and needing to build your pipeline, why then, you should be spending 80% of your time prospecting. Once you have a full sales funnel (and if you've done this consistently for 3-6 months, you should) then the equation flips. After that you need to be spending 20% of your time prospecting.

The problem is, of course, that most new sales people or business owners don't spend that 80% of time up front to build their sales funnel. And then they don't spend that 20% of time consistently ensuring their funnel stays full. That is why so many sales professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners struggle. That's why so many experience that 'boom & bust' cycle. They have no business in the pipeline so they panic and frantically start prospecting. They get a few new customers, feel safe again and stop. Then those projects are done and there's nothing in the guess what? They panic and start frantically prospecting again.

The key to never, ever having to experience 'boom and bust' is to prospect consistently, every day, no matter what.

There are many ways to build a sales funnel. While the world certainly knows that I am a great advocate of cold calling, networking, referral selling, and social media are also excellent tools to build a pipeline. (I do, however, feel compelled to point out that where ever one finds a lead, whether through networking, or referrals or social media, at some point one will need to speak with that prospect on the telephone.)

The important point is that no matter what else is going on with you or in your business you take the time to look for new business every single day.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Assume At Your Own Risk

Getting your point across clearly in meetings can sometimes be an art form - that's why I think this advice from communication expert Dianna Booher is so great.

People tend to walk away from a conversation, thinking they've made their point perfectly clear. Otherwise, they would have stated things differently.

Raise your virtual hand here: How many times have you walked out of a nonproductive meeting and heard other attendees mumble, "So what did we decide? Are we or are we not going to do X?" Only the subject changes.

Here are some other tell-tale signs related to the sin of assumption:

--Managers who look puzzled when their admin returns to them a spreadsheet representing a week's work when all they expected was a three-paragraph email
--Upset customers calling with "Where's my order?" when the service agent promised delivery "within a few days"
--Colleagues finger-pointing over project details that "fell through the cracks"

To make sure people walk away with the same message you intended to convey, verify by getting them to react to it in some fashion. These statements might be helpful to verify that they heard what you intended to communicate:

--"How do you think this policy will affect your staff?"
--"What objections do you think people in your area might have?"
--"What are some of the first steps you'd suggest to make this change reality?"
--"How easy (or hard) do you think this will be?"
--"What questions do you think we'll hear in the first 90 days as we roll out this program?"
--"Will delivery by June 15 work for you?"

Questions like these generate the comments that verify people really do understand your point. From there, you know whether to circle back with more elaboration or press on with your mission.

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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SalesDog Quick Tip

Cold calling is one of the most difficult ways to sell, so I'm always on the look-out for interesting tips that I think will help you to sell more and feel more comfortable with the entire process. This quick tip from sales trainer Sam Manfer is a quick change you can make in the way you present your offerings - that could make a big difference!

Cost Reduction Is a Low Excitement Benefit

Revenue generation is a more exciting benefit. People want more money, more business and more customers to grow or just survive. If you can show them how your services can get them more sales or more customers, it is about four times more effective than cost reduction.

Many salespeople assume that the mere mention of cost reduction will get a prospect's attention. Prospects hear about cost reduction all the time, and unless they specifically tell you they have a cost problem, avoid it or use it as a low priority expose and entice.

Sam Manfer delivers keynote speeches and in-depth selling workshops for those anxious to increase sales. His hands-on coaching turns individuals and sales organizations into selling whirlwinds. Follow Sam's C-Level Selling Blog for more insights.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why You Resist Selling...And How You Can Lose That Resistance

Sometimes it is hard to be a salesperson - and some of that difficulty could stem from internal resistance to selling. This article from sales trainer Tessa Stowe will help you get inspired again to get out and sell!

Are you having fun selling? Are you enjoying it - or do you dread or resist it? If you aren't having fun selling, then I have a hunch that you think selling is all about persuading and convincing people to buy something they may or may not want or need.

If that is what you think selling is about, then it will automatically and naturally create huge resistance and tension on your side as it is simply not in one's nature to try to persuade or convince people. You don't want people to think of you as someone who acts in this way as it makes you feel like a phony. You feel you can't act with integrity using this type of sales approach. So it's fairly easy to convince yourself not to sell at all - or if you do, then you only do it half heartedly.

If you think selling is about persuading and convincing, you'll be asking yourself "How can I do that?" You'll be thinking that there is a lot to learn. You'll believe that you have to master a lot of techniques like how to overcome objections and how to "close." You'll be thinking that you better put off selling until you've practiced all these techniques. But actually you don't really want to use these techniques - as you don't want to be a phony persuader or a convincer - so you put off learning these techniques as well.

If you think selling is about persuading and convincing, you'll also be expecting (and getting) a lot of rejection experience. You really don't like rejection, so it's much easier to simply avoid or minimize doing the thing that is causing it. Therefore, you minimize and avoid selling - problem solved!

So what is the solution? How can you easily and quickly go from resisting selling to actually enjoying it, and as a consequence, make a lot more profitable sales? The solution is quick and easy. Ready? Simply change your definition of selling. Instead of persuading and convincing, define selling as helping people get what they want.

If you believe selling is about helping people get what they want, there will be no resistance on your side as you enjoy that. You like it when people think of you as someone that will help them get what they want. When you are helping people like this, you are acting with integrity as the "real you", and it makes you feel good.

If you think selling is about helping people get what they want, then you'll naturally know how to do that. You'll know that first, you need to find out what they want. If you can help them, then you show them how you can help them. Finally you give them the choice of whether they would like your help or not. Some will and some won't. All of this can be the result of a normal comfortable conversation - which you know how to have.

If you think selling is about helping people get what they want, then you know that not everyone will want your help at this point in time. Maybe in the future they will. Even if they need your help now, it is their choice to decide if they want you to help them. Your role is to simply help them make the best possible decision for them. With this view, there is no rejection because it's not about you. It's simply about them making a decision that is best for them.

Can you feel your resistance to selling go away when you think about selling as helping people get what they want? There is a great sense of fulfillment when you can help someone else get what they want. You'll enjoy sales more with this approach and you'll also make a lot more profitable sales!

Tessa Stowe teaches small business owners and recovering salespeople simple steps to turn conversations into clients without being sales-y or pushy. Her FREE monthly Sales Conversation newsletter is full of tips on how to sell your services by just being yourself. Sign up now at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Call Me Back, Please!

Today sales expert Kelley Robertson shares some great advice for getting prospects to call you back!

Are you finding that your prospects seldom return phone calls?

Getting someone to return your call is challenging at the best of times. Think about your own situation for a moment. How many calls do YOU return? I receive many calls from people trying to sell me a product or service but I rarely call these people back.

Decision makers are inundated with people calling trying to sell their product or service. A typical executive in corporate America receives dozens of calls everyday. Most of them get 150 emails in their in-box every day. Plus, they spend the bulk of their 12-14 hour days in meetings.

Try this tactic.

Make sure your message focuses on a specific problem they may be experiencing and allude to a way they can resolve it. For example:

"Mr. Prospect, Kelley Robertson calling. I read in today's newspaper that you are merging with XYZ Corporation. Our research has shown that employee sick days increase by as much as 38% during a merger; however, one of our clients was able to reduce this to just 9%. Call me at 905-633-7750 if you want to discuss how they did this."

Most voice mail messages focus on the seller's product or solution. But this doesn't show your prospect how you can actually help them solve a problem. Change your approach and improve your call back ratio.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dealing With Slacker Prospects Without Sounding Like a Pathetic, Needy Salesperson

We've talked a lot on this blog about how to deal with prospects that never call you back. One thing we haven't talked about? How to do that without sounding like a pathetic, needy salesperson. Yikes, that is definitely something I want to avoid! Thankfully, today sales expert Jill Konrath shares how you can deal with slacker prospects without the neediness.

Ever had an interested prospect who really liked your stuff, but then never followed through? That's exactly why Jerry wrote me this email.

The logical next step is for us to review parts for the prospect to see if we're a possible fit. My problem is many of them tell me that they'll send over the specs for us to review but then never do it.

I'd like to either call or email them back after a week or two to remind them. However, I don't want to sound like I'm begging.

Any suggestions on how best to handle this type of situation to keep things moving forward with the client AND avoid my sounding like a pathetic, needy salesperson?

Here are some of my thoughts...

After they agree to send the drawings, say something like this: "Great. I look forward to getting them. And, based on my experience working with other crazy-busy people like you, after we hang up the phone one of two things will happen ....

1. You'll go get the drawings right away so you don't forget ... or
2. You'll immediately get back to work on another project and totally forget. Am I right?

(Pause ... he will laugh and agree.)

Then say, "So how do you want me to handle this situation. You know I'm going to keep bugging you till I get them."

When you call back 2 weeks later AND 3 weeks later, you can say, "Hey. Me again calling to bug you about those drawings. We can't get you the pricing without them. And, as I mentioned in our earlier conversations, we've helped other firms reduce their costs by 23.6%."

Have fun with it. Tell him what you're going to do and enjoy it. Pretend it's your brother (or other relative) who was supposed to do something for you but keeps forgetting. And don't worry about sounding pathetic.

Now that's just one approach. What would you suggest?

Want to learn more about these fresh strategies for selling to crazy-busy prospects? To get four FREE sales-accelerating tools and download two chapters of SNAP Selling, visit or email

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ideas Mean Nothing...Until...

Yesterday our quote of the week was about bettering yourself. One excellent way to do that? Take those ideas you're always thinking of, but never acting on, and get started! Mark Hunter explains.

Do you know that ideas mean nothing until you turn them into action? Sounds basic enough, but so many people become paralyzed at the "idea stage." And what happens when you get stuck in "idea stage"? Your sales and your sales motivation start to suffer.

The "idea stage" is where too much thinking goes on and not nearly enough "get out and do it." It’s a common problem and we all have it. We all love to think up great ideas, and then in the next instance, we turn the idea into a goal that we somehow begin to think we can accomplish it.

There is nothing wrong with all of this except for one simple thing – it remains just an idea upon which you never actually work, let alone accomplish. I’m a firm believer in setting goals and for that matter big goals. I like to think my motto is something close to "If you're going to think big, you might as well think very big." Think big, but then do something about it. More importantly, do something about it right away. Sure, the idea you've come up might be huge and require a long period of time to achieve it, but that does not forgo the need to start working on the idea immediately.

The reason most ideas never turn into anything is people don't get working on them. Take the idea you've been thinking about lately and do something today to move it forward! If you're challenged by the size of the idea, then start by doing the next best thing and break the idea down into a number of smaller ideas. Then take one of the smaller ideas and start working on it.

In the end, your thinking is not the problem. The problem is in the action (or shall we say, the lack of action). What's your idea, what's your goal and what are you doing today to help accomplish it? Get to moving. Your sales motivation depends on it.

Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." -- William Faulkner, Author

It's very easy to compare yourself with others - that person made more sales, has a nicer car, has a bigger house, etc. We all do it, even though we know it gets us no where. I love the idea proposed in this week's quote - that instead of trying to be better than the people around you, try to be better than yourself. Now that's an achieve-able goal! After all, there will always be someone out there with more, so it's useless to compete with anyone else.

Try to make yourself better each day, and you'll see results!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Letting Go Is Hard To Do

Do you have prospects that are dragging you down? Keeping you from focusing on those that are actually making you money? It's time to get rid of them! Sales trainer Wendy Weiss tells you how to deal with this tough situation.

Every sales person has them. Those deadly lingering prospects. The ones that never buy anything. They say, "Not just yet..." They say "Not quite ready..." They say, "Call me back in a couple of weeks..." or "Call me back in a month..." or "Call me back in six months..." over and over and over. And you do call them back over and over and over and they never buy anything. They say, "Not just yet..." They say "Not quite ready..." They say, "Call me back in a couple of weeks..." or "Call me back in a month..." or "Call me back in a few months..." over and over and over.

We've all been there. Calling that prospect, hoping this time will be different, hoping this time they'll say, "yes" and that this call will make up for all the previous calls and all the time spent. Besides, if you don't call them, then maybe your competition will...the nightmare of all nightmares...your prospect that you've been calling for years now will buy from someone else. You don't want that to happen. Oh no! And so you do call them again and they don't buy anything. They say, "Not just yet..." They say "Not quite ready..."

So how do you end this vicious cycle that breaks so many sales professionals' hearts? Step one: Identify and only pursue qualified prospects. Step two: Ask the tough questions. Letting go is hard to do...but well worth it in the end.

Make sure that you know what makes a prospect qualified for you. Far too many sales professionals spend far too much time chasing after prospects that will never buy. The reason: The prospects aren't really qualified in the first place.

In your conversations with your prospects, look to qualify prospects out. Far too many sales professionals are afraid to ask the tough questions, questions about the process, the budget and how that decision will be made. Ask the questions that you need to ask to determine that you are indeed speaking with a qualified prospect. If you're not, they won't buy anything from you. As soon as your prospect gives you information that tells you that you're no longer speaking with a qualified prospect, stop pursuing that prospect.

Some times prospects do have legitimate reasons for asking you to call back at a later date. And that's ok. If a prospect has a legitimate reason, then by all means call them back when they have asked you to call back. (Just make the call a little earlier than the prospect has suggested—better a little early than late.) If however, your prospect has not explained why they want you to call back at a later date then make sure to ask:

"(Prospect's name), I understand and am happy to call you back. Let me ask you a question though: What will have changed between now and (whenever they said to call back) that will enable us to move forward?"

And lastly, if you have prospects that you have been following up with time after time after time and getting nowhere ask those prospects:

"(Prospect's name), we've been talking for awhile now, and you have indicated that we'd be able to help you (fill in the benefit.) I know that you're very busy and I don't want to waste your time or mine. I need to ask you, what is the probability we'll be able to work together in the next few weeks/month/quarter?"

If your prospect cannot give you some assurance that you will be working together, stop pursuing that prospect. They are not going to buy from you.

Letting go of prospects is hard to do. When you let go of inappropriate prospects, the ones who will never buy from you, that will free you to pursue real prospects. The ones that say, "yes."

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Make Sure Your Nonverbal Cues Don't Contradict Your Words

Dianna Booher is a communication expert who offers great advice for salespeople. After all, communication is a huge part of our sales - so make sure you follow her tips!

Have you ever been involved in a conversation that went something like this:

"Why did you get so upset at what I said?"

"Look, all I said, was 'blah, blah, blah.'"

"Yes, but what you meant was _______."

"All I said was, ‘blah, blah, blah.’"

"That's may have been what you said, but what you meant was ______."

This discussion could go on for days until someone understands that the message is what someone hears and sees, not necessarily what someone says.

Tell a non-performer that her behavior is unacceptable. But smile and nod encouragement at the wrong time during your discussion, and she may walk away thinking "no big deal" and go back to the status quo.

Announce to the media that the customer reports about defects in your product are isolated incidents. But do it with a furrowed brow and you may have lawyers soliciting class-action claims by noon.

Tell your team that "things are under control." But do it with a nervous fidget and team members may wonder if you'll hold your job long enough to report their recommendations.

Words alone never carry the complete message. Messages come from context, relationship, tone of voice, what was said, what was not said, and body language. Consistency produces clarity.

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.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Skills to Improve Conversation

As salespeople, we depend on our communication skills to build our businesses. That's why I loved seeing this article from sales expert Brian Tracy - three skills to improve conversation? I'm in!

One key to becoming a great conversationalist is to pause before replying. A short pause, of three to five seconds, is a very classy thing to do in a conversation. When you pause, you accomplish three goals simultaneously.

The Benefits of Pausing
First, you avoid running the risk of interrupting if the other person is just catching his or her breath before continuing. Second, you show the other person that you are giving careful consideration to his or her words by not jumping in with your own comments at the earliest opportunity. The third benefit of pausing is that you will actually hear the other person better. His or her words will soak into a deeper level of your mind and you will understand what he or she is saying with greater clarity. By pausing, you mark yourself as a brilliant conversationalist.

Ask Questions
Another way to become a great conversationalist is to question for clarification. Never assume that you understand what the person is saying or trying to say. Instead, ask, "How do you mean, exactly?"

This is the most powerful question I've ever learned for controlling a conversation. It is almost impossible not to answer. When you ask, "How do you mean?" the other person cannot stop himself or herself from answering more extensively. You can then follow up with other open-ended questions and keep the conversation rolling along.

Paraphrase the Speaker's Words
The third way to become a great conversationalist is to paraphrase the speaker's words in your own words. After you've nodded and smiled, you can then say, "Let me see if I've got this right. What you're saying is . . ."

Demonstrate Attentiveness
By paraphrasing the speaker's words, you demonstrate in no uncertain terms that you are genuinely paying attention and making every effort to understand his or her thoughts or feelings. And the wonderful thing is, when you practice effective listening, other people will begin to find you fascinating. They will want to be around you. They will feel relaxed and happy in your presence.

Listening Builds Trust
The reason why listening is such a powerful tool in developing the art and skill of conversation is because listening builds trust. The more you listen to another person, the more he or she trusts you and believes in you.

Listening also builds self-esteem. When you listen attentively to another person, his or her self-esteem will naturally increase.

Listening Develops Discipline

Finally, listening builds self-discipline in the listener. Because your mind can process words at 500-600 words per minute, and we can only talk at about 150 words per minute, it takes a real effort to keep your attention focused on another person's words. If you do not practice self-discipline in conversation, your mind will wander in a hundred different directions. The more you work at paying close attention to what the other person is saying, the more self-disciplined you will become. In other words, by learning to listen well, you actually develop your own character and your own personality.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, make a habit of pausing before replying in any conversation or discussion. You will be amazed at how powerful this technique really is.

Second, continually ask, "How do you mean?" in response to anything that is not perfectly clear. This gives you even more time to listen well.

Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. As a Keynote speaker and seminar leader, he addresses more than 250,000 people each year. Learn more at