Friday, July 30, 2010

Five Handwritten Notes You Should Be Sending Now!

As someone who was raised to write a handwritten thank you note for everything, I completely agree with sales trainer Tim Wackel when he says a handwritten note will get you far. How have you used handwritten notes in your business?

Remember the last time you received a personal note? Did the handwritten envelope catch your eye and pique your interest? It's probably a safe bet that you opened and read that piece of mail almost immediately. Doesn't matter who the note is from - people are just more easily engaged by this personalized approach and level of attention.

Handwritten notes are one of the least expensive, most effective and largely ignored tools in your sales and marketing arsenal today. For less than a dollar and some change you can find your way to the top of someone's in-box.

If you use professional quality stationary and know how to craft a tight message, odds are great that your note will be read. Can you say that about the last email you pushed into cyberspace?

Very few people take the time to send handwritten notes because they believe its boring - especially in today's age of high tech (and low touch!) communication. There's nothing new or exciting about putting pen to paper. Writing a personal note takes a little more time and can actually bring back painful memories for some of you. This is the stuff Mom used to make you do...UGHHH!

But this is where the simple brilliance lies. Here is a communication vehicle that doesn't cost much, it grabs the attention of the recipient and is incredibly underutilized. People who send personal notes are thought to be considerate, creative, gracious, well mannered, mindful and a "cut above the rest." Not a bad return on stationary, a stamp and five minutes of writing!

Want to make handwritten notes one of your personal success habits? Here are five quick but powerful ideas to get you kick started today!

#1. Have some personal note cards professionally printed and keep a stack on your desk. Challenge yourself to write one note every day thanking a client, prospect, business partner, colleague or co-worker. This will force you to start looking at life through a "glass half full" exercise in itself that will pay dividends to you and those you come in contact with.

#2. Do you have a valuable idea (not sales pitch!) that someone needs to know about? Send out a handful of personal notes inviting people to breakfast or lunch and let them know you have an idea that you believe could have value for them. Not everyone will take you up on your offer but the ones who do could turn out to be tomorrow's best client. This also forces you to start communicating value (not features!) in a very concise manner - a skill that most sales reps never seem to master.

#3. How many birthday cards do you receive from people outside of your family? Sending a personal note on a birthday communicates that you care enough to know AND remember that person's birthday. Find a card that reflects your personality and that you enjoy sending. Take time to write a short personal message and then watch as you begin to light up your contact database one birthday at a time.

#4. Send an article or newspaper clipping to someone about an interest of theirs and attach a personal note. Internet search tools like Google Alerts ( provide an endless supply of new and relevant information that you can quickly print and mail. Figure out what is important to others and then show them that you care. People like to work with people who are willing to do the little things. If you do the little things well, others will believe that you can handle the big things (projects, commitments, orders, deadlines, promises) just as easily.

#5. Send something to make someone smile. A funny news story, witty cartoon or amusing personal experience can help transform relationships and break down icy barriers. Does this stuff work all the time with all people? Nope, but very few things in life ever do.

Sending a handwritten note is one of the simplest and most underutilized tools in today's nutty busy crazy world. Every sales professional claims that they want to be different than everyone else, so here is a great opportunity to do just that. Find some time to slow down, take a deep breath, pick up pen and paper and watch the magic begin.

Tim Wackel is one of today’s most popular business speakers who has mastered the ability to make information entertaining, memorable and easy to understand. He combines more than 20 years of successful sales leadership with specific client research to deliver high-impact programs that go beyond today’s best practices. Tim’s keynotes and workshops are insightful, engaging and focused on providing real world success strategies that audiences can (and will!) implement right away.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make Customer Service Your Priority

What's your title at your company? If you're reading this blog, it's likely it doesn't include the words "customer service," but today business expert Andrea Nierenberg argues otherwise. Here's what she has to say:

The role of "customer service" is in everyone's job description - and we all have customers or clients. Without them, we have no business.

They can be both internal - which are our co-workers, and colleagues or external.
Here are some reminders for Superior Service:

1. Understand how your client's expectations rise and continually change. Learn to understand what they want and what they value.

2. Use quality service to differentiate your business from the competition. Go beyond - and find ways to delight and dazzle them - treat people in a way they will appreciate and remember.

3. Set your own high standards and go higher. Think how you feel when you are in their shoes and you are everyday - when you are in the role of customer to some one else.

4. Never be content - always look to get the competitive edge - and if you don't - your competition will.

5. Manage your customers' expectations. Build a foundation of trust - deliver what you promise. Sounds easy, yet implementation is the key. Much better to under promise and over deliver.

6. Take it personally! Make sure to establish a personal relationship with your client. Build relationships.

7. Bounce back with effective service recovery. We are not in total control of anything - sometimes things may go wrong, and when this happens, make sure to repair it and restore client good will.

8. When a client complains - thank them - they have given you a buying signal and they can become your best allies. They tell you what you need to know to improve. LISTEN and then take action to fix it.

9. Look at the world through your client's eyes and ears. Put yourself in their shoes and the roles they go through in their work. Here is a thought - walk into your office as if you were seeing it for the first time, greeting your team for the first time - actually become a customer for your competition.

10. Service is the currency that keeps our economy moving. We all give service to each other. When I serve you in your business and you serve me in another - one improves and so must the other - and the whole level rises.

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dreaming Bigger About Business

Today sales trainer Tom Reilly gets us thinking about dreaming bigger about our customer's business - it's an interesting idea!

How big do you think for and about your customer? This is another way of asking, "Are you thinking about their business or the next order?"

Some salespeople are real business partners. They think, plan, and execute their growth strategies for customers as if they were an important part of the customer's team. Other salespeople are transaction focused. They go from order to order. Professional selling is more than hustling orders.

If you are serious about this job and concerned about the impact you have on the customer's world, you are more focused on making a difference than making a deal. Deal guys come and go. Those who make a difference are in it for the long haul.
This is Value-Added Selling. Value-added salespeople are energized by the work, not just the order. Do not misunderstand me: It is exciting to get the order, but it is exhilarating to have a real impact on the customer's business. Meaningful work is a powerful motivator and an important component of a successful career. When you believe that your work is important and extract meaning from it, you approach it with passion and enthusiasm. Without meaningfulness, you are cheating yourself of one of the most important purposes of work.

Transaction salespeople—those who go from order to order—too narrowly define success. They fail to dream big enough for their customers and for themselves. They concentrate on the next purchase order versus helping customers achieve higher levels of success at whatever they do. Instead of thinking about how much more you can sell to a customer, think about how you can bring them more value. If you bring them more value, you will sell more.

Tom Reilly is the president of Tom Reilly Training. He 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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Know Your Strengths

Our quote of the day yesterday focused on really thinking about what your goals are, and making them personal to you. I thought this article was a great follow-up, because it helps you to think about the strengths you have that will help you achieve those goals you set. Today's article comes from business coach Tom Kelly.

Have you ever wondered what you are really good at? Would it be helpful for you to be able to understand what your true strengths are as a person, and be able to not only articulate what they are, but also be able to align your career and daily actions around what you are naturally good at? Over the last eight years, I have worked with hundreds of business owners, sales people, entrepreneurs, and business leaders that either didn't know what they were good at, or had a hard time articulating it. Here is an easy way to identify what you are good at, and, once you have the information, what to do with it:

Take The Strengthsfinder
There is a great book called, "Strengthsfinder 2.0" by Tom Rath. In the book, there is an assessment that you can take online that will identify your top 5 strengths, in order, and provide you with an explanation of what each one of them means. I recommend that you pick up a copy of the book and take the assessment. You can learn more about it here - It may change your life!

Assess How Often You Are Currently Using Your Strengths
Your strengths are things that you are naturally good at - things that come easy to you. Knowing your strengths allows you to identify how often you are using them in your day-to-day career and life, and then you can adjust accordingly. Ask yourself the question, "am I really using my talents a majority of the time?" If not, you will increase your success and overall happiness if you align yourself more with what you are naturally good at.

Take Action!
If you aren't currently using your natural strengths and talents, then you have a great opportunity to re-align yourself around them. Perhaps it's time to take a different career path, or change what you are spending your time on to things that are more in alignment with who you are. This may sound simple, however, transitions can be a challenge sometimes. If you need assistance here, working with a good coach or professional can help you. Also, surrounding yourself with great people to support you can be of help. Creating a supportive environment around you will make your transition much easier.

Have Fun!
Once you have aligned yourself around your true strengths, I'm confident that you will find things are much easier for you. Think Michael Jordan playing baseball vs. playing basketball. Big difference, right? You too can experience more success by being true to who you are.

Tom Kelly is a Professional Business Coach that specializes in working with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. He can be reached at (773) 907-0921, or at

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

"To know yourself is the first and most important step in pursuing your dreams and goals." -- Stedman Graham, educator

One of the most important things you can do is sit down and make a list of goals and how you'd like to achieve it - that's something we talk about quite a bit here. What we don't talk about all that often is what you need to do before you even write down those goals - you have to take the time to think about what you really want.

Fr you personally, it might not be that you want to make more money. It might be that you want to make the same amount of money you make now, but leave the office an hour earlier to go home and be with your family. Or you might want to be the first female president in your company, or set a company sales record. Whatever it is, it has to be something that motivates you - and to do that, you have to sit down first and really think about what you want.

Take the time to think about you want, and then get started!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Formula for Responding to Prospect Objections

Responding to objections is one of the hardest things to do - so I plan on making good use of sales trainer Wendy Weiss' formula for responding! What about you?

Many, many sales representatives, business owners and/or entrepreneurs start their sales cycle with an appointment. That appointment is frequently face-to-face or it could be an appointment to show a web-based demo. Most of these sales representatives, business owners and/or entrepreneurs are, of course, using the telephone to attempt to schedule those first appointments.

There are many roadblocks along the way to gaining agreement for a first appointment. Many struggle to even get their prospect on the telephone. Once they do, however, there is another major roadblock: The roadblock of prospect objections. Unfortunately far too many prospectors shoot themselves in the foot when trying to handle these prospect objections.

Objections are not necessarily, "no." Objections can help you gain insight into what is going on with your prospect, they can help you jump start a conversation and most importantly, if handled well, they can actually help you schedule the appointment.

Here is The Formula for Responding to Prospect Objections:

1. Agree with your prospect.
Find a way to agree with your prospect, even if it's only to say, "I understand..." You will get nowhere arguing with your prospect. When you agree with your prospect you actually put yourself on your prospect's side.

Too many prospectors actually create push back from their prospects with the word, "but." They hear a prospect objection, for example, "I already have a vendor" and they say, "but..." and give a reason why their product/services are better. This puts you in the position of arguing with your prospect. This is not an argument you will win.

2. Reframe the objection.
The word, "reframe," means "to help the prospect think about the objection differently." If you can get the prospect to look at the objection in a different way you have a much better chance of being able to schedule your appointment. A reframe for the objection, "I already have a vendor," might be, "You never know what might happen in the future and right now, I'd simply like to introduce myself." In this reframe, you are not asking to replace the prospect's current vendor (although that might certainly be your ultimate goal!) You are asking the prospect to think of you as a future resource.

3. Ask for the meeting
After agreeing with your prospect and reframing the objection you must ask for the appointment again. Too many prospectors make the mistake of waiting for the prospect to say, "Ok, that's a good idea." The chances of that happening are minimal. Take the power and ask again for what you want.

Use this Formula to handle your prospect objections and you will find your path to that first appointment to be much easier and far more successful.

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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are You Really Listening?

Today sales trainer Mark Hunter shares his thoughts on listening - and a great tip you can put into practice right away!

On every sales call, make sure you bring up at least one item the customer shared with you on the previous call. This demonstrates that you listen closely.

Salespeople are already struggling anytime they're talking to a customer or a prospect because of all the preconceived notions that so many people have regarding salespeople. Too many people believe salespeople don't listen and that the only thing they're into is their own personal desire to sell something.

The best way to overcome this is by showing the customer you're different and you listen. Problem is too many salespeople don't start listening to the customer until after they've either already bought something or on the verge of buying something.

The time to start listening is truly at the beginning. You do this by using each and every comment the customer makes to you as a potential follow-up question. This really comes into play if you're involved in a long sales cycle, where there are a number of sales calls either on the telephone, via email, or in person.

Use each communication as an opportunity to ask the person a follow-up question regarding something they told you in the previous discussion. If you can't come up with a question, you should at least reference something from an earlier call or something shared very early in your current call.

By doing this, you're accomplishing several things. First, you're finding out additional insights about the customer by getting them to build on something they shared with you earlier. Second, (and I believe more important) is the customer will begin to see your listening skills in action. This helps them to begin to have confidence in you. Ultimately it's the confidence the customer has in you that will determine if they buy from you.

So, are you really listening? Only you and your customer know. Your sales motivation and sales success will reflect it.

Get more great tips and quotes from Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Are You Killing the Sale?

Sales trainer Kim Duke writes a fun, sassy newsletter with great sales advice. Today she shares what you might accidentally be doing to kill the sale.

Years ago one of my first sales managers was a grouchy, slouched, chain-smoking 65 year old guy who gave me a piece of advice I've never forgotten. I was young and eager to sell television advertising but I was having trouble closing the sale with some customers.

He looked at me over his glasses and said..."Kid, one of the biggest mistakes made by new salespeople is that they talk themselves OUT of the sale. I'd bet $10 that's what you're doing."

And you're probably thinking right now "OK – what the heck does that mean??"

What My Grouchy Old Sales Mentor Can Teach You

Are you ready for this? Most entrepreneurs and salespeople, quite frankly, TALK TOO MUCH.

Are YOU Killing The Sale?

* You're doing all the talking in the first 20 minutes with a customer
* You're info dumping all the features and benefits
* Even when they've agreed to buy – you still talk too much

And then what happens?

You kill the sale.

As my old boss once told me...a potential customer can actually say YES to the sale but then when you keep blabbing away (because deep down you're so excited they said YES) you usually will end up saying something that KILLS THE SALE.

Uh-oh. The customer will say right there that maybe they should speak with their partner, think about it some more, let me "run it past the board" get the drift. And within just a few minutes of your client being excited to work with you - the situation is now they can hardly wait for you to leave.

So What's The Solution?


When your client has agreed to buy your product or service, let them know the steps/follow-up, thank them for their business and then wrap up the call/meeting and GET OUT.

I listened to Jack all those years ago and it was a timeless piece of advice. Talk less, listen more, show gratitude and follow-up.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stump the Gatekeeper

The Whetstone Group shares excellent sales advice in a "Problem, Diagnosis, Prescription" format that is fun and easy to read. Today they share an interesting way to get past the gatekeeper to the person you need to talk to.

Problem: Sara was becoming increasingly frustrated in her efforts to reach the decision makers when she was prospecting. Time after time access was blocked by the gatekeepers and information gatherers. It often seemed like there was a conspiracy to keep her from speaking to the top-level people. She had tried various tactics, but nothing was working. Now her sales were suffering.

Diagnosis: Gatekeepers typically feel that an important part of their job is to insulate their boss from unwanted intrusions. Only important people are permitted to have access and salespeople are not considered important. As for the information gatherers, they feel they've been assigned an important job. It has two parts. First, they need to get as much information as possible from various vendors so the company can evaluate their options. Second, they're supposed to keep those pesky salespeople away. These "Seemore's" feel they've been entrusted with an important job plus they want to protect their turf, so some ego is involved here as well. But the bottom line is that it all gets back to the negative attitude most prospects have about salespeople and that can be summed up in just a few words. Salespeople are mainly concerned with selling something and typically bring little value to the situation. The prospect is thinking, "Let's just get them to come in and answer our questions and then we'll decide who has the best options."

Prescription: Obviously a different approach is needed. Here's one that works. Ask a question they can't answer. That's right. Throw them a curve ball so they have to go elsewhere to get information. For example, ask the techie a non-technical question, such as, "What type of return on investment would the company need to justify this purchase?" Or ask an administrative person a technical question like, "Can you help me understand exactly how this software will interface with your existing system?"

The questions must be real and you need to have several that the person can't answer so that he/she says, "Well, I'm not sure, Ms. Smith has that information." You could then say, "Well, without this information, I'm afraid that I can't be as responsive as I'd like to your requests. I'm concerned that I might give you information that might be inaccurate, and that would make you look bad. Does it make any sense for you to introduce me to Ms. Smith so that I can get this information first hand? Then I can be sure that I get the right information to you."

If you're having a tough time getting to the right person, try this tactic. Remember, the person asking the questions is the person who is in control.

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, July 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up." -- Paul Valery, French Poet

We talk a lot about thinking about your dreams and goals. After all, if you're not dreaming big it's likely you won't ever reach those heights. The only problem? Dreaming will only get you so far.Once you have the dream in mind, it's time to put in the effort to make it a reality. And sometimes that will mean long hours at the office, more time on the phone, and trying new things that take you outside of your comfort zone.

Are you ready to achieve your dreams? Then wake up and get started!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Four Obstacles to Closing

Today world renowned sales expert Brian Tracy shares four obstacles to closing. Read on and see if these are you holding you back from your best year ever.

Fear of Failure
There are several other reasons why the end game of selling is stressful and difficult. First and foremost is the fear of failure experienced by the prospect. Because of negative buying experiences in the past, over which you could have no control, prospects are conditioned to be suspicious, skeptical and wary of salespeople and sales approaches. They may like to buy, but they don't like to be sold. They are afraid of making a mistake. They are afraid of paying too much and finding it for sale cheaper somewhere else.

Fear of Criticism
They are afraid of being criticized by others for making the wrong buying decision. They are afraid of buying an inappropriate product and finding out later that they should have purchased something else. This fear of failure, of making a mistake in buying your product, is the major reason why people object, hesitate and procrastinate on the buying decision.

Fear of Rejection
The second major obstacle to selling is the fear of rejection, of criticism and disapproval experienced by the salesperson. You work long and hard to prospect and cultivate a prospective buyer and you are very reluctant to say anything that might cause the prospect to tune you out and turn you off. You have a lot invested in each prospect and if you are not careful, you will find yourself being wishy-washy at the end of the sale, rather than risking incurring the displeasure of the prospect by your asking for a firm decision.

Customers Are Busy
The third reason why the end of the sale is difficult is that customers are busy and preoccupied. It isn't that they are not interested in enjoying the benefits of your product. It's just that they are overwhelmed with work and they find it difficult to make sufficient time available to think through your recommendations and make a buying decision. And the better they are as a prospect, the busier they tend to be. This is why you need to maintain momentum throughout the sales process and gently push it to a conclusion at the appropriate time.

Inertia is Hard to Break
The factor of inertia is the fourth reason that can also cause the sales process to come to a halt without a resolution. Customers are lazy and often quite comfortable doing what they are currently doing. Your product or service may require that they make exceptional efforts to accommodate the change or a new way of doing things. They perhaps recognize that they would be better off with your product, but the trouble and expense of installing it hardly seems to make it worth the effort. They see no pressing need or urgency to stop doing what they are doing and start doing something else with what you are selling.

Everyone Buys at the Same Time
The good news is that everybody you meet has bought and will buy, new products and services from someone, at some time. If they didn't buy from you, they will from someone else. You must find the way to overcome the natural physical and psychological obstacles to buying and then hone your skills so that you are capable of selling to almost any qualified prospect you speak to.

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

First, recognize the normal fear of making a buying mistake experienced by the customer. Give him every reason you can think of to be confident in dealing with you.

Second, accept that everyone you talk to is busy and you are interrupting. Always ask if this is a good time for him to give you his undivided attention. If not, arrange to see him another time.

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

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Love "Low-Hanging Fruit"

Today sales trainer Bill Caskey questions the norm, and suggests you take advantage of the low-hanging fruit available to you. Here's what he has to say on the subject:

Why does "low-hanging fruit" get a bad rap. Why shouldn't every business-to-business sales organization be totally focused on low-hanging fruit? Answer: They should. In my world (the world of sales training), low-hanging fruit is defined as the following:

* A business that has a problem that they are totally committed to admitting and fixing, and they don't need a salesperson convincing them that they should do something about it.

* A business organization that has the funds to devote to solving the problem. (In other words, they have the budget and/or will spend money to fix it.)

* A company that is open-minded and looking for outside help in solving of inside problems. (Some companies aren't, and if you're an outsider then ditch them and move on.)

* A client who doesn't see you as a vendor—but sees you as a provider of a valuable solution that will improve the wellbeing of the people at the company. (The instant you get into you vs. 10 other bidders, get out.)

* A company that gives you access to information and people. (They don't hide the CEO, the CFO or the COO because there's a policy that they don't see salespeople.)

Believe it or not, there are companies around that have these characteristics. And if you define these as low-hanging fruit, then have at it. I would suggest that if any one of these elements is not in place, then you have to reach too high, which will take more time, which will cost more money, which will rob someone else in the market of your value.

Bill Caskey is a sales development leader and experimenter. His ideas about selling are convictions about life, money, and meaning. He has coached sales professionals and executives for over 19 years. To learn more, visit his website

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Not A Free Pass

Today business expert Diane Helbig shares her thoughts on networking - let us know what you think in the comments!

Networking is an interesting activity. There are so many people who do it well and reap the benefits. And then there are the people who don't understand it and hurt their businesses - many times without even realizing it. These people see networking as a free pass to communicate with people in any way they wish.

As a refresher let's visit a definition of networking. Networking is building relationships with people who may or may not need what you have to sell. The operative words are 'building relationships.'

Think about what it takes to build a relationship. It takes honesty, respect, interest, energy, and commitment. You have to be truly interested in getting to know the person, their business, their needs, wants, and interests. You don't assume that you have the right to communicate with them in any way you choose - you ask. And you take time to work on the relationship.

Many people think that once they meet someone at a networking event they have the right to do whatever they want. It's as if the introduction is a free pass; a permission slip. Do they think that the networking event is a common bond that accelerates the relationship building process? If so, I submit they are mistaken.

The act of networking is not a free pass to try to sell your product or service. Nor is it a free pass to sign someone up for your e-newsletter. Remember, people are always defining you by your behavior. How do you want to be defined? As someone who is respectful and more interested in building a relationship or as someone who is more interested in selling their wares?

Believe me, it matters. Some people won't care. I think those people make up a small segment of the business population. They may be the people who aren't interested in building relationships. Frankly, I wonder if you were ever going to do business with them.

Your problem appears with the people who you should be networking with. They want the relationship. Remember that when you network you aren't necessarily looking for business. You should be looking for people you can build a relationship with to help you grow your business - and help them grow theirs. When you are starting the process of building the relationship you don't want to do something that could stop the process. This is why you have to be sure to be respectful at the outset.

So, what can you do to get rid of the 'free pass' mindset?

1. Don't try to sell to people you meet at networking events. EVER! A trick I like to use is to assume that they don't need what you have to sell. This will help you stay out of sales mode and in learning mode.

2. Ask the people you meet if they'd like to receive your newsletter. Actually, only ask the people who you think would benefit from receiving it. Now, how do you know who those people are? By getting to know them, their needs, interests and desires. If it doesn't make sense, don't do it.

*So many people think that the goal is to build their list. That may be so, but remember that you want to build it with people who want to be on it, not by gathering names.

3. Decide that you are going to network with the following goal - to learn something about a couple of people and start the relationship building process. Remember that everyone is there to grow their business. The ones who will succeed are the ones who don't focus on it.

Effective business growth starts with relationships. Building relationships starts with respect and a keen interest in helping others solve their problems. Networking is a great way to gain opportunities to grow your business but it is not a free pass to communicate in any way you want.

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, July 13, 2010

5 Reasons Why Persuading Prevents Sales

Do you think selling is all about persuading and convincing? Are you trying hard to get people to agree with what you tell them? If that is the essence of your sales approach, it will lose you sales. Here are five reasons why, from sales trainer Tessa Stowe.

Reason #1: You will resist selling.

If you think selling is all about persuading and convincing, you will resist doing selling as you probably don't enjoy the experience of having to get people to agree with you. Doing that is difficult and can feel like fighting. You may also be concerned about what people will think of you. As a result, selling will be something you do rather reluctantly, and really wish you didn't have to do at all. If you resist selling, you are not going to be selling as often as you need to. Consequently, the less time you spend selling, the less sales you will make - plain and simple.

Reason #2: You will experience sales resistance from your prospects.

The moment you start trying to persuade or convince is the moment your prospect identifies you as a "typical salesperson." As soon as they reach that conclusion, they go into protection mode to prevent themselves from being sold to. They put their sales resistance barrier up. When a sales resistance barrier is present, the chance of getting a sale goes down.

Reason #3: You will miss out on the larger sales.

If your prospect trusts you, it is fairly straightforward to make a much larger initial sale. You can do this by giving them an option which assumes they will be with you for the long term. If they trust you, they will give serious consideration to this longer term, higher priced option. However, if you are persuading or convincing your prospect, it is unlikely they will trust you. They'll think that you care more about making a sale than you do about helping them. When there is little or no trust present, your prospect will be very cautious about making a long term commitment to you. Hence, they will probably not be interested in your higher priced option.

Reason #4: You will miss out on the easiest sales of all.

The easiest sales of all should be from your current customers. However, and this is very important, if you acquired a customer through persuading and convincing, it will affect the trust between you and your prospect. He or she will probably not be too keen on repeating the last sales experience with you. So next time they need something that you can offer, they may go look to someone else who cares more about them than about themselves.

Reason #5: You will have few referrals.

If your prospects and customers did not enjoy the persuading and convincing sales experience with you, they are definitely not going to give you referrals. They will want to protect their own reputation within their network of friends and associates.

So what is the solution?

Instead of thinking that selling is about persuading and convincing, approach selling as helping people to get what they want. If you approach selling in this way - and use a sales process that matches it - then there will be little sales resistance on your side and from your prospects. As you successfully build rapport and trust, your prospects will be more open to higher priced initial options. Finally, you will get more repeat sales and referrals from your customers.

Starting today, stop persuading and convincing, and intently focus on helping people to get what they want. Both you and your prospects and existing customers will feel the difference. This simple change in your sales approach will result in more sales and customer loyalty.

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, July 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

"You can't do it unless you can imagine it." -- George Lucas, director

Hard work will only get you so far. You can work and work, but if you don't have a goal or an inspiration, what are you working towards? Take the time to decide what you want, and then go for it! You just may surprise yourself.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Networking? Don't Be Late

Sales trainer Mark Hunter has an excellent blog where he shares sales advice in short, concise posts. Perfect for the busy seller! Today he shares a networking tip.

Next time you have an opportunity to network in person, arrive early, not late. This seems obvious, but some people think it is better to take a casual approach and show up after the event or gathering is already well underway.

When you arrive early, you can have conversations with people before they are too engaged with others or already participating in the the activities of the event. Arriving after an event starts often means you will awkwardly break in on conversations that have already been established.

There are other benefits to arriving early as well, especially for the shy person or someone who does not like to network. Yes, this runs counter to the norm, but by arriving early, you're able to join in with other people who arrive early. The typical cliques that can develop at these gatherings will not have emerged yet, and you'll be able to meet others in a much more relaxed and comfortable manner.

When you are in sales, even though the actual "selling" may take a break every now and then, your sales motivation does not. Be the type of salesperson who is positive and grasps every opportunity to learn and to talk to new people. Always be networking. Never arrive late.

Get more great tips and quotes from Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, at

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Making the Grade in the Second Half

As someone who loved school, I think this article from sales trainer Skip Miller puts a fun spin on making the second half of the year your best yet. It also includes some great advice, so read on to make sure you get all A's on your next report card.

You made it!

You have the first half of the year done, and things are not too bad. Some of you are a bit ahead of plan, some a bit behind, but you have the rest of the year to make it. The ramp is steep, but time is on your to speak.

Just like in college, this is the mid-term, and if you remember your days back in school, here are some basic rules regarding mid-terms.

1. Prepare for the final
You do not want to be in November looking up at a huge hill. It's the 3rd quarter that will make or break you, so get that pipeline full. Pipeline management is the number one reason people made or missed the 2nd quarter. Get the maybe's out and prospect broad and deep to fill

2. Drop the courses you are not doing well at
This would apply to C prospects and C sales people. If you keep the C prospects, your pipeline accuracy is shot. Up to 40% of your current pipeline are maybe's. Get them out. Managers, keep the C players, and you may as well kiss off 2011. Ask great qualification questions to the management of your prospects. Start interviewing; you may be surprised what talent is out there.

3. Get your B's to A's
This again goes to prospects and sales people. Have Solution Box conversations with the management of your top prospects. No Cause, no I-Date, no deal. Ask your A players what they need for the balance of the year to overachieve, and really listen. You may be surprised what they need to make a big year end splash for their quota, and yours, is within your reach.

4. Add resources
Time to allocate all the resources you have into getting good prospects into the funnel. Your team has 6 months to close these deals, but come September, good luck trying to fill the funnel, when everyone else, including your buyers, are making decisions. All hands on deck...fill the funnel and go see your top 2010 prospects.

5. Ask questions
Best way to qualify is to disqualify.

"Why would you go ahead this year and fund this solution?"
"What return are you getting on this investment?"
"How is this helping you lower your business risk?"
"Where does this solution save you time?"

If your prospect can not answer business value questions...are they really going to spend money?? They like you?? Hmmmm....time to break out ValueStar.

There seem to be more mines in the minefield in the second half of the year than the first, if that's possible. How you navigate with the right tools, the right prospects and the right resource will heavily influence the final score. Your final score. Your year is over by the end of September. Get moving, and have a great summer.

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cool Sales Tools to Make Prospecting Easier - Part 2

Yesterday we featured some excellent tips from sales trainer Kendra Lee that will help make prospecting much easier for you. Thankfully, she's back today with even more tips that are incredibly helpful!

1. Watch your prospects. No, we aren't talking stalking. Watch what your top prospects are doing using alert services like Google Alerts for free. Set up a daily alert and see all the tweets and comments they've made and where they're mentioned. You'll know what to talk about when you call and more importantly, when they need you to call.

2. Make your emails stand out.
Use to pick out trite or hype-filled words and phrases you don't even know you're using. It's a great tool to increase the impact of your brochures and online copy, too.

3. Know if they're listening. One of the biggest challenges with email prospecting is knowing if anyone has read what you sent. Use to trace email opens and forwards, numbers of times read, and URL clicks. Use to shorten long links for social network comments and emails. You can track how many times the links are opened, forwarded and by whom.

4. Increase your own productivity.
If you're a Microsoft Outlook user is a plugin that makes searching your inbox and finding information about your contacts fast and easy. You can even search social networks for information about your contacts.Getting people to reply is the most difficult aspect of prospecting. These tools give you new levels of information and insight to grab their attention and increase your odds of success.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, read her latest articles, or to subscribe to her newsletter visit or call +1 303.773.1285.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cool Sales Tools to Make Prospecting Easier

There's a lot that goes into prospecting. Before you even pick up the phone or begin to write that email, you often have to do quite a bit of research to even find your contact person. No wonder people get bogged down by prospecting!

Today and tomorrow sales trainer Kendra Lee will shares some excellent tools she's found that make prospecting quite a bit easier. And really, who doesn't want that?

"You can use these tools to do everything from identifying who your best-odds prospects are to deducing why they'd want to speak with you, writing a powerful email, and ultimately attracting them to you," says Lee. "Here are some of my favorites."

1. Identify the who. Once you know the profile of the types of contacts and companies you want to approach, use,,, or to search and get the names of the best contacts to talk to. Often you can find contact names by title and department taking some of the guesswork out of who to approach.

2. Delve in. Go a step further and do some research for the contacts you've uncovered on those same sites. What have they written? Where have they been quoted? You can quickly get a feel for what's top of mind with them and where their passions lie.

Research their companies to identify business issues that will grab their attention. Are their inventory turn times significantly higher than their competitors? Is their aged accounts receivable out of alignment for their industry?

Use this information to craft your grabber value proposition for phone calls and emails. Use it to write blogs or articles on similar topics. The articles and blog posts will attract their attention and peak their interest in you. Comment about your ideas on social networks making you more visible.

3. Secure contact info. Start with these same sites to find the most current contact information for your target prospects. and are maintained by people like you and me, so they've often got very current information including valuable email addresses. While you're there, add a few contacts of your own and earn points for free contact information downloads.

4. Find elusive email addresses. If you still can't find an email address here's a trick to try. From your search engine type "@their website domain" and it'll pull up anywhere on the web where email addresses for that domain appear. Now you'll have the email protocol for that company and can more effectively guess your contact's email address. You can also use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to send direct messages within their networks. These systems break past your prospects' email delete barriers when your direct emails do not.

Check back in tomorrow for more great, time-saving tips from Kendra Lee!

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, read her latest articles, or to subscribe to her newsletter visit or call +1 303.773.1285.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Slow Down!

As someone who talks very fast, I know how hard it is to slow down. To me it feels like slow motion, while to others it sounds normal. But, it's something we all have to work on - the clearer your message, the more likely you are to get the sale! Today sales trainer Kelley Robertson relays a story that makes this point perfectly clear.

The other day I received one of the worst voice mail messages ever.

The caller spoke so quickly I could barely understand her message let alone write down her telephone number. Her words ran together and it was difficult to decipher the company name even though I listened to the message twice.

It was obviously a sales call and she wanted me to return her call but that didn't happen because I didn't want to listen to her message six or seven times simply to get her phone number.

She couldn't end the call quickly enough. As soon as she spewed out her phone number, she hung up. I suspect this person has a high number of calls to make every day and it is entirely possible that she simply makes them as quickly as she can to get them over with.

Here are two key learning points from this call:

1. When you leave a VM message, make sure it is clear, articulate and easy to understand. Better yet, leave a compelling reason for your prospect to return your call.

2. Speak slowly so people can record your number. Better yet, leave your call-back number at the beginning AND at the end of the message.

Slow down, leave a great message and improve the odds of getting a return call.

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. He specializes in helping businesses increase their sales, develop better negotiating skills, coach and motivate their employees, create powerful work teams and deliver outstanding customer service. Learn more at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Finish the Second Half Strong

It is hard to believe that the second half of 2010 is here. Where has this year gone? No matter how you're doing right now, today, July 1st, marks a new start. Sales and motivational trainer Billy Cox shares his advice to make it your best year yet!

How are you doing with the goals you set for this year? If you are on track…that’s great. If you aren't, NOW IS THE TIME TO GET CLEARLY FOCUSED AND TAKE MASSIVE ACTION!

The truth is, you can make the next six months the best six months of you life.

To accomplish this you must constantly ask yourself these two important questions:

What do I want?
What must I do to attain it?

These two questions will help you Catch A Clear And Powerful Vision for your future.

So, the key for you will be to take whatever time is necessary to DECIDE exactly what you want. Then COMMIT to doing Whatever it Takes to ACHIEVE it.

You can't change the past (good or bad) but you absolutely can change the future by the choices you make TODAY.


Remember... ”It's what you do every day that makes you who you’ll be some day”.

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