Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who Initiated This Project?

The Whetstone Group offers sales advice in their newsletter in a fun format: Problem, Diagnosis, Prescription. Today they discuss that age-old problem - finding the decision maker. This is one doctor's visit I don't mind going to!

Problem: Brian was frustrated with his inability to get to the decision-makers in the companies that he was calling on. Time and time again he seemed to be stuck with low and mid-level managers who were relentless in two areas: their quest for as much information as possible and their reluctance to give Brian access to the person who had the authority to authorize the purchase. This is a commonplace occurrence in the life of many salespeople. Brian’s frustration was mounting and his selling cycle was lengthening.

Diagnosis: Why do companies assign low-level people to deal with salespeople? There are a number of reasons, but two of the most prominent are: decision-makers sometimes feel they are too busy and need to delegate the task, and sometimes lower level people are simply on a hunt for information for a project that may not even have a purchase at the ultimate objective.

Prescription: If Brian is to avoid this problem, he must gain access to the authority behind the request. The following two-part tactic has proven successful in these types of situations. First, find out who initiated the request, and why, and then talk about the downside of a poorly informed solution provider. It might sound something like this.

Salesperson: "Can you help me understand who initiated this project and why the project is important to the company?"

Seymour: "That would be Jim, the VP of Finance. He needs it because his department wants to (mentions something about the problem)."

Salesperson: "And you’ve been charged with recommending a solution?"

Seymour: "Right."

Salesperson: "And I assume you’d like me to provide you with some options?"

Seymour: "Absolutely."

Salesperson: "Then I’m going to need your help. No offense, but typically I find that in situations like this there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. Usually the person who initiated the project has some very specific knowledge about the impact of the problem on the company, maybe other solutions that have been tried that did not work basically information that would help me tremendously in coming up with some good recommendations. Without that information, I may be missing something that is critical to recommending the right solution. Wouldn’t it make sense for us to include the person who started the project in our dialogue at the earliest opportunity so we don’t run into any problems?"

Initiating a dialogue like this may help you get to the right people, which is half the battle is getting the sale. Remember, selling successfully sometimes requires just a very slight edge. This one may come in handy.

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 www.whetstonegroup.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself." -- St. Francis de Sales, French bishop and writer

As someone who can get anxious and discouraged quickly, I think this quote is one to tape to the computer where I can always see it!

We all work so hard, trying new things, perfecting our pitch, finding new prospects, that it's easy to be hard on ourselves. Instead, each day, take some time to think about all you do and be proud. Be patient, and good things will come from your good work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Educate Your Buyer

You all know I think sales trainer Mark Hunter's advice is great. I go back to it again and again, not only because it is extremely helpful, but also because it's concise and to the point. Sometimes all you need is a quick idea to get your brain going and working hard. Today's tip is one of those!

Although your buyer's first responsibility is in buying products or services, there is also a need for them to be knowledgeable of how the items/services you are selling contribute to their company.

Take time on every call to educate your buyer about one small piece of information that can help them better understand their business. When you do this, be sure to not do it in a tone that is condescending or arrogant. This will rile up their defenses and cause them to put up walls (which obviously defeats your goal of generating dialogue).

There are many benefits to helping your buyer gain knowledge. Not only will they learn more about the role your services and goods play, they also will see you as a person who is willing to help them personally raise their business skills.

Tips like these separate the average salespeople from the superior ones. Which camp do you want to be in?

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 www.TheSalesHunter.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Use "Experience" as Your Edge in Influencing

Communication expert Dianna Booher knows how to turn your conversations into gold. Using different words or phrases in your speech can raise credibility, build rapport, and get you the sale! Today she shares her advice on using your experience to position yourself as an expert.

Others can argue about your facts, data, surveys, or research--and they often do! They can disagree that your product or services outshine the competition. They can doubt that your offering will resolve their problem. They can disagree that your ideas will correct a problem, meet a challenge, or take best advantage of a great opportunity.

But no one can dispute your experience. Your experience is yours alone. No one else has lived through it, observed its effects, and been shaped by it. When you state an opinion or respond to a question during a presentation “based on your experience,” state that experience with confidence.

For example, a buyer asks: “I think customizing the assessment is a waste of time. Why are you thinking we need a customized version added to our intranet before we roll this out to our own customers?” Your response: “That has to be your final decision, of course. It will delay the project by approximately two months. But in my experience in handling these projects for more than 70 clients during the last two years, I can recall only two clients who skipped that customization phase. And both regretted the decision because their own employees proved to be a great cross-section of the population to test user acceptance. I offer that experience for your consideration.”

Of course, others may try to discount your experience as “unrelated,” “irrelevant,” or “dated.” But as long as you show relevancy to the situation at hand, you’re the expert on your own experience.

Your experience can be accepted or rejected, but it’s still your experience--and irrefutable as such.

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. www.Dianna-Booher.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Building Long-Term Relationships

Today sales expert Brian Tracy shares his tips for creating and maintaining long-term relationships, and we all know relationships are the key to a successful career in sales. Read on for his insight!

If you could take everything we know about communications, put it all in a large pot, boil it and distill it down into its critical essence, it is about the importance of relationships in successful selling. Building and maintaining long-term selling relationships is the key behavior and skill of the top ten percent of the money earners in sales, in every field, selling every product and service.

The Reason for Success
Most of your success in life will depend on your ability to get along well with other people, and on the quality of your relationships. Psychologist Sidney Jourard, found that 85 percent of a person's happiness in life comes from happy interactions with other people. The reverse holds true as well: 85 percent of a person's unhappiness or problems in life comes from difficulties in getting along with others.

Sell to Lots of People

Anyone can sell to a few people, some of the time. But only the very best human relations experts can sell to a wide variety of people, and sell to them repeatedly. The only way that you can make the kind of big money that you are capable of is by selling more easily, and more often, to the prospects you talk to, and by having those prospects open doors to others through testimonials and referrals. All top salespeople build and maintain high quality business relationships with their customers and sell to them repeatedly year after year.

Decide Emotionally, Justify Logically
We are all sensitive to the quality of our relationships with other people. We are primarily emotional and we make most of our decisions on the basis of how we feel inside. We may carefully consider all of the logical and practical reasons why or why not with regard to buying a product or service, but in the final analysis we tend to go with our gut feeling. We listen to our inner voices. We obey the dictates of our hearts. We buy on the basis of how we feel about the relationship that we have with the other person. Where there is no relationship, there is no sale.

Focus on the Key Variable
Everything that you ever learned of value in the profession of selling, regarding your product or service, or personality, is only helpful to the degree to which it contributes to the building of high quality relationships with customers.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action. First, become a relationship expert in sales. Focus first on the relationship, above all, and the sale will take care of itself. Second, take care of your relationships once you have built them. Never take them for granted. Tend to them as you would to a flower garden.

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 www.briantracy.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Sell to C-Level Executives

Sales trainer Kelley Robertson recently attended a webinar with guest speaker Jeffrey Hayzlett, former Chief Marketing Office of Kodak. Here are 4 of the several key insights he shared:

Stalk them (professionally). You need to be extremely persistent and use a variety of approaches to get their attention. Hayzlett mentioned that he often directed his team to say no to everyone and then wait to see who took the initiative to make additional contact.

Develop a 118 second elevator pitch. The average elevator ride in a metropolitan city is 118 seconds. You have 8 seconds to capture the executive's attention and 110 seconds to sell them on continuing a conversation with you.

Develop and work your network. CXO's are more likely to meet with someone when they are referred by a colleague. Develop and nurture relationships with everyone who might help you connect with that individual.

Sell the executive assistant. These individuals often determine whether or not you meet their boss and their reputation is at stake. Treat the EA with dignity and respect and work under the assumption that they ARE the decision maker.

Selling to executives is challenging but you can improve your results by implementing these four strategies.

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 www.robertsontraininggroup.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life." -- Brian Tracy, Author

No matter what profession you're in, good communication skills are essential. I like how Brian Tracy puts it in this quote - it's a skill everyone can learn and hone, as long as they practice. You can practice sales calls with your boss or a friend, or simply in the mirror. Pay attention to what you say and how you say it, and remember eye contact and a friendly demeanor will take you far!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Secrets to Creating a Sales Proposal That Doesn't Suck - Part 2

Yesterday we started a two-part article from sales trainer Kelley Robertson about creating a sales proposal that actually gets you the sale! Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

1-Avoid the word "I" or "we". The more times these two words show up in your proposal the more evident it appears that the proposal is about you, not about your prospect or their business or company. This also includes mentioning your company name. Keep your proposal focused on your prospect and use the word "you".

2-Use titles or headings.
This is particularly important if your proposal is relatively long although it is an effective approach with short proposals too. Headings make it easy for your prospect to find key information. Heading also break up the page and make your proposal easier to read.

3-Include at least one testimonial. Testimonials remain one of the most effective sales weapons and you need to incorporate them into your proposals. I like to add these in my P.S. after my signature although I know people who include several testimonials throughout their proposals.

4-Include a summary. Many people will skip the details of your proposal and flip to the last page. Effective proposals include a bullet-point summary of the services you will provide to your prospect.

5-End with a call to action. I used to close my proposals with, "If you require any additional information please feel free to contact me." Boring! Tell the prospect what you want them to do next. By the way, the next steps should ALWAYS be discussed BEFORE you write your proposal.

The purpose of a proposal is to demonstrate that you and your company have the best solution for the prospect's problem. Apply the concepts that were mentioned in this article and stand out from your competition.

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Secrets to Creating a Sales Proposal That Doesn't Suck

After working in sales and sales training for years, sales expert Kelley Robertson has seen it all when it comes to sales proposals. The good, the bad, and the just terrible. Thankfully, he's here to share his expertise and give you the tools you need to secure the sale. This is a two-part article, so be sure to check back in tomorrow for more great suggestions!

Here are ten strategies you can use to ensure that your proposal stands out from your competitors.

1-Open effectively. The vast majority of sales proposals start with information about the seller's company. I have never figured out the rationale of this approach. Your prospect doesn't care about you or your company. They don't want to know how long you have been in business, what awards you have won, or what other companies you have worked with. Effective proposals always highlight the problem that the prospect is facing and the impact that problem has on their business. And they do this early. Not on page two, three or nine. On the first page. If you feel obligated to include this type of information place it near the end of the proposal.

2-Address their situation early. An approach that I have found very effective is to begin with a one paragraph summary of my prospect's situation followed by the key objectives they want to achieve. This demonstrates that you have a good understanding of your prospect's problems and concerns. I like to state the objectives in bullet-point form because it is easier to read and absorb.

3-Show the value. This does not mean expanding at great length about your solution. Instead, it requires that you identify exactly how your prospect will benefit by implementing your solution. A technique I learned many years ago is to include several bullet points with each point stating a separate value proposition.

4-Avoid corporate-speak or marketing mumbo-jumbo. The best proposals are written in plain, easy-to-understand language. Many sales people (and marketing departments) think that it is important to use ten dollar words when a simple word would suffice. Never, ever use terminology that might be difficult to understand. Although this is a simple concept, too many sales people include wording or technical information that just isn't necessary. I learned this lesson when I submitted my first proposal many years ago. After earning the business I asked my client why they chose me and she said, "Your proposal was easy to understand."

5-Keep it brief. I once read a proposal for a sales training program that spanned 24 pages. Decision makers are far too busy to read a long proposal. I understand that some proposals require a lot of information and detail, especially if you are recommending a complex solution. However, the longer your proposal the more likely it is that your prospect will skim through it and flip ahead to the investment. It is much more effective to write a short, concise proposal and provide back-up information if needed.

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 www.robertsontraininggroup.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Put an End to This HUGE Time Waster

How are you using technology to further your business? Are you using social media to your advantage, like we talked about yesterday? What about programs to help you with your research? Today sales expert Jill Konrath tells you how to save time and money with technology.

OMG. That's exactly what I said when I saw the CSO Insights statistic that says that sales teams are spending over 20% of their time researching -- and that it's only getting worse. That's one full day ever single week.

And the truth is, they NEED that customer information in order to do their jobs. Today's prospects suffer no fools. If you want to get into see them, you need to do this research for multiple reasons:

--Find decision maker's names on company sites, LinkedIn or elsewhere.
--Locate potential points of entry within bigger companies.
--Identify trigger events that create dissatisfaction with the status quo.
--Learn what's happening, so you sound intelligent about their company.
--Strategize the best possible approach.

So we know it's essential. We know it eats up tons of time. We know that all the information is available online.

But why in the world are salespeople still doing it the "old fashioned way," one time-intensive search after another that's filled with tons of irrelevant information that then has to been sifted through.

What a colossal waste of time -- especially when there are excellent and affordable resources that can automate this process: (note - this is not a paid promo; it is my opinion only.)

--SalesView from InsideView
--iSell from Avention
--Companies & Executives from DowJones
--Hoovers (I love their Near Here iphone app)

Yes, you have to pay a monthly fee for these resources. But what is your time worth? And isn't it much better spent figuring out how to USE the data versus gathering it?
If you're a boss, wake up to this horrible, but necessary time-suck in your organization and get your salespeople some help.

If you're a seller, don't wait for your boss to pay for it. Invest in these resources yourself. The payback is tremendous.

Jill Konrath, author of SNAP SELLING and Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into new accounts, speed up sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at annual sales meetings and conferences. To get four FREE sales-accelerating tools and download two chapters of SNAP Selling, visit www.SnapSelling.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Putting the Social in Social Media

Today sales expert Colleen Francis shares how you can make the most of the new selling world of social media.

"The more I use social media the less social I become." That's a quote from a conversation I overheard recently at the U.S. National Speakers' Association...and it's been on my mind a lot since then.

It's understandable that some business professionals are still a little wary of social media and social networking - and by the way that's a list of websites that includes Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, among others. Indeed, time is too valuable to waste on fads, but the facts suggest that there is much more going on here than just another trend fueled by the power of everyone-else-is-doing-it psychology.

Take a step back from the technological allure of these websites and online apps and you can see that top-ranked social media share some important characteristics that are invaluable in sales:

--They can filter content and connect you directly, one-on-one, with others who are interested in similar things that matter to you;
--They help keep you in the conversation loop on topics that matter to you and your customers, including those that mention you or your company by name; and
--They provide you with a easy-to-access medium to be as useful to others as that medium can be for you.

In other words, the best social media sites have in common a key attribute that all top-ranked sales people look for in networking: they are places that can help you showcase your value as a resource to a well-defined group of people. That's something to be valued well ahead all others benefits associated with social networking, and yet it's the one that I find is still under-used by professionals...and that takes me back to that quote I heard at the conference.

If you are becoming less social while using more social media, then you're not using that tool correctly. Social media is not meant to replace physical contact. It's meant to compliment it, providing an additional outlet to listen and engage with your clients. And, in this marketplace you need as many customer contact outlets as possible to stay in that coveted top-of-mind position.

There's no question that social media has caught on with a large segment of today's marketplace. A 2010 Nieslen study in the U.S. found that it now occupies roughly 25% of online activities—and that's nearly double from just a year ago. So it's fair to say that this is an activity that's already being embraced by your existing customers as well as people with whom you'd like to do business.

Your challenge, therefore, is to find ways to make social media part of your client-attraction system. Here are five ways you can build on the social in your social networking activities:

1. Share useful tips, articles and announcements on Twitter. This includes retweeting good news about your customers. Showcase your skills by answering questions tweeted by others. By participating in the networks of your customers, you increase the chances they will want to engage with you offline more often.

2. Engage in conversations with clients via LinkedIn and blogs. At Engage, our most successful clients use LinkedIn and the comments section of their own blogs to ask and answer questions, create groups specific to their products/services and ensure they are connecting likeminded clients who can help each other. Some of our clients have great success creating virtual advisory groups that meet both online and offline to improve customer service and enhance products.

3. Create special offers for followers. Encourage participation in Facebook Fan Pages by giving away products and offering special discounts. This can also include inviting readers to join online newsletters and other promotional material…and don't forget to mention those special offers in your "on-hold message" for inbound client phone calls. By using a multifaceted approach, you engage customers many more times in a month than they could using only traditional media.

4. Elevate awareness by promoting live events and hosting virtual launch parties and special event pages on Facebook and LinkedIn. Invite customers to participate online and reward them for inviting others. It's a great way to attract new clients and reward existing ones.

5. Make yourself available using live chat. Let's face it. Some prospects might not want to pick up the phone and call you, but will be more receptive to chatting with you online. It's less formal helps build trust because it's dialogue established on their terms.

Social media and social networking sites are worth effort! It can help attract and retain more clients, but like all tools, you have to use them properly. Remember: this does not replace the legwork you have to do as a sales person in seeking out prospects, determining what they want and finding ways to meet those needs. Rather, it is an extension of those efforts; one more element in your arsenal to help you hit those sales targets month after month, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 7 day intensive sales eCourse: www.EngagingIdeasOnline.com.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quote of the Week

"I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right upfront, tell people what you're trying to accomplish and what you're willing to sacrifice to accomplish it." -- Lee Iacocca, executive

I love this quote, because I think it can apply to all aspects of your sales. First off, don't you think your boss would love to have you sit down in front of them with a detailed plan of your goals and what you will do to achieve them?

What about your customers? You could tell them right away the level of customer service they can expect, and instead of empty promises, tell them exactly what you will do to ensure that level of customer service.

And of course, what about prospects? Prospects want to know they are signing on with someone who will work for them and make their life easier - let them know EXACTLY how you plan to do that!

Lay it all out on the table, and people will be impressed with your drive and initiative!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yes You Can

It's Friday, and I think this article from business expert Diane Helbig is a great way to end our week. Sometimes you just need a reminder of the power of positivity!

There is a distinct difference between those who believe they can and those who don't. They are both right. The difference is the accomplishments experienced by those who think they can.

I marvel on a daily basis at the people who believe they can. That belief is the foundation upon which they launch. I watch new entrepreneurs, new authors, as well as seasoned business people who embrace change.

They all have something in common and it is a belief that they can; a positive attitude. That's it. No magic, no tricks, no advanced college degree. simply the belief that they can achieve something they currently don't have.

Remember I said that those who don't believe they can are also right. That may sound strange but think about it for a minute. They believe they can't and therefore don't try. Or don't try with energy and commitment. And so, they get exactly what they expected - nothing.

What is your decision? What side of the fence do you sit on? I sit on the 'yes I can' side. And I am proven right over and over and over again. That proof serves as a propellor and helps me continue to move forward. It feeds on itself. The more I believe I can, the more I accomplish which makes me believe more strongly, and accomplish more. Now that's a hamster wheel to be on!

So again I ask - what can you do in your business today? What can you decide you CAN do and then set out to accomplish? Can't wait to hear your story!

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 www.seizethisdaycoaching.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sales Tip: Help Your Buyer With Paperwork

As you know, I think sales trainer Mark Hunter delivers quick, easily accessible tips that can make a huge difference in your business. This one is no exception!

One of the most tedious tasks of any buyer in the purchasing department is the paperwork, whether it be physical paper or the time required getting information into their computer system. So what are you doing to help them with this?

Take the time to ask your buyer and their assistants how you can help. Find out the timeline they have to have their information in by. Knowing how to help them and when to help them can open up significant doors for you by being able to assist them.

This is especially critical during vacation periods or other times when the office may not be fully staffed. Additionally, with many companies having made cuts in personnel, it can mean the buyer with whom you are working no longer has the assistance from others. Step in and help them out. Be the person they can count on and you’ll be amazed at how they will respect and thank you for your help.

It will be a boost to your sales motivation too.

Get more great tips and quotes from Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, at http://thesaleshunter.com/category/blog/

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

9 Steps to Closing Bigger Sales

Today sales trainer Rochelle Togo-Figa shares some excellent advice about a topic we all love - bigger sales!

A client recently called me with some very good news. She had been hired by a large company to do several projects for them. She was so excited she could hardly contain herself. She had been working hard on growing her business for several years and it was beginning to pay off.

I told her this didn't happen by luck. She had created a clear and concise step-by-step sales action plan and had diligently and consistently followed each step.

Let's take a look at the steps she followed that led to her business success.

1. Know your niche. Be clear about the market/industry you want to go after. Often new business owners make the mistake of being generalists because they want any business they can get. Be specific about who is your ideal client and put all your energy in that direction. Get yourself known as a specialist in one area rather than trying to be an expert in everything.

2. Ask for referrals. There's "low-hanging fruit" right under your nose. If a client is satisfied with you, they'll be happy to help you. Ask happy clients if there is anyone they know who you can call. If your client works within a large organization, figure out the department you want to call and then ask the client who they know in that department. This is the first step my client took, so do this early on!

3. Get the meeting. When calling the prospect for a meeting, introduce yourself, give the name of your referral and state the purpose of your call. If they know and respect your referral source, you've opened the door to getting the meeting. Don't wait to say who referred you. Let the prospect know immediately who referred you.

4. Visualize getting the business. Close your eyes and actually see yourself walking into the meeting with confidence, having a great meeting and then getting the business. Do the visualization a few times the day before, as well as before you go to sleep and on the way to your meeting. How you come across as soon as you walk in the door sets the tone for the whole meeting.

5. Prepare an effective presentation. Create a complete presentation of what you want to cover at the meeting. I've created a PowerPoint presentation of The Sales Breakthrough System. I also bring a marketing folder that includes a list of my programs, with descriptions of each, a bio, client list and testimonials. Whether it's a visual presentation or a brochure, you want to show something to the prospect that will enhance your professionalism and make an impact.

6. Practice your presentation. Practice what you're going to say. This includes an opening statement, a run-through of your presentation, responses to objections they may have, questions they may ask, questions you might ask—especially asking for their business—finally, closing for next steps.

7. Establish a connection. Connect with the prospect by looking at them throughout the meeting. Do not talk over them, talk directly to them. You will come across as someone who is warm, confident and in control. This is a valuable skill if you're meeting with a group. Speak to each person for 4-5 seconds, and then move to another person. You'll find each one will pay more attention to what you say.

8. Outline the Next Steps. At the end of the meeting summarize for the prospect what has been discussed and agreed to. Then take out your calendar, asking the prospect to do the same, and write in what the next steps are. Never leave without knowing what the next steps are.

9. Follow Up. As soon as you return to your office, summarize in an e-mail what was covered during the meeting and the next action steps you and the prospect have agreed to take. Send the memo to the prospect the next day. Include due dates for each action step and be sure to fulfill what you said you would do.

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quote of the Week

"You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals." -- George Patton, General

We've talked a lot about goals on this website, but we haven't really talked about something that can keep you from reaching those goals - other people. How many times have you felt silly or beaten down by someone's scoffing comment or passing remark? Did you let their comment get to you and deter you from the actions that keep you from reaching your goal? I know that has happened to me.

If you're sure about your goals and they really mean something to you, build up that thick skin so you can brush off the comments from other people that will hold you back. Believe in yourself and your goals!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Make Small Commitments. Get Big Changes.

Do you subscribe to the SalesDog newsletter? If you don't, you are missing out on some wonderful articles - not only about sales, but about business, marketing, and life in general. Today's article is from our publisher, Michael Dalton Johnson, and is one of our most popular newsletter articles.

As we go into the weekend, keep this article in mind and make one of these small commitments - you just might see a big change!

Taking Care of You
Drink plenty of water.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and eat less that is manufactured in processing plants.
Avoid eating food that is handed to you through a window.
Live the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
Play more games.
Read more books than you did in 2009.
Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
Sleep for 7 hours.
Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Your Outlook
Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
Don't have negative thoughts of things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
Don't overdo. Keep your limits.
Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
Dream more while you are awake.
Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
Forget issues of the past. Don't remind others of their past mistakes.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
Learn a new word every day.
Smile and laugh more.
You don't have to win every argument.

Your Relationships
Call your family often.
Each day give something good to others.
Forgive everyone for everything.
Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
Try to make at least three people smile each day.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Your Life
The worst promise you can break is one made to yourself.
Do the right thing!
Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
The best is yet to come.
When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
Your Innermost Self is always happy. Follow it.
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

Michael Dalton Johnson is the Editor and Publisher of "Top Dog Sales Secrets", best-selling book featuring advice from 50 renowned sales experts. He is the Founder and Publisher of SalesDog.com, an educational resource for sales professionals. Johnson is a successful entrepreneur and business leader. For a free subscription to the SalesDog weekly sales newsletter, visit http://www.SalesDog.com

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Take a Stand

Tim Rohrer is a great speaker, and unlike a lot of sales trainers, he still works in sales. Today Rohrer shares a great story from his sales experience.

I got kicked out of a sales call the other day. Seriously.

The client abruptly ended the meeting and declared that I had "wasted his time". While there was no violence, this was the professional equivalent of being thrown out the saloon door. The meeting is over. Hit the road, bub.

So, you are probably wondering what I did to get kicked out and I'll tell you. But first, I will tell you that while originally ambivalent about the situation, I am now quite pleased. Not pleased that the prospect felt I had wasted his time – because that was exactly the opposite of my intention – but pleased that I was not kowtowed into changing my position simply because the prospect acted in a blustery, semi-belligerent fashion.

The prospect – an attorney – was referred to us by a television salesperson and wanted to explore the possibility of buying advertising from our radio group. I assigned the prospect to one of the sellers and he took the prospect through the process of asking pertinent questions to better understand how to help before setting up a face-to-face meeting.

When a meeting was established, I decided to tag along. My primary reason for going was that I wanted to advise the client not to use radio advertising as a direct, lead generation device.

After twenty years of selling radio advertising, I have strong opinions about how to use it and what works best. Many clients buy time with an unrealistic expectation of what is going to happen when their ad is broadcast. In my experience, one of the unrealistic expectations of personal injury attorneys is that lots and lots of people will call them upon hearing their message. The reason this is unrealistic is that people who have been injured do not go to their radio (or TV), turn it on and then wait for a personal injury attorney to advertise so that they know whom to call.

Instead, they proactively seek out help. In 2010, this is done is via internet search engines. Our attorney prospect has a very poor web presence and doesn’t show up in any of the typical searches. Consequently, the only people who would respond to his radio advertising campaign would be either 1) those recently injured but who had not yet taken action or 2) those that had been injured some time ago but for whatever reason had decided not to take action.

The first of those groups is tiny and the second of those groups is undesirable. And, both groups would have to make note of the phone number at the time they heard the ad in order to reach our prospect because no one would find him if they were to search for personal injury attorneys.

Before you think of me as some whacked out purist, let me tell you the story of Mrs. Moran – my high school Latin teacher. Mrs. Moran liked to decorate her room and her often elaborate decorations required picture hangers and nails be driven into the walls. In order to do that, Mrs. Moran used - a stapler. Many people told Mrs. Moran that she ought to use a hammer to do those jobs but Mrs. Moran didn’t have a hammer. So, she wrote on a piece of masking tape – "This is a hammer" – and then affixed the tape to the top of the stapler. The next time some smarty pants student told Mrs. Moran that she ought to be using a hammer she showed them the sign on the stapler.

Problem solved.

When I told our attorney prospect that he was unlikely to be satisfied with our lead generation until such time as he had a stronger, more effective presence on the internet he became indignant. He told me he was a media expert and that we needed to fit into his plan. I told him that we weren't a utility but rather a professional services provider with a keen understanding of how our product works. He told me that he didn't need or want my expert opinion. And, you know the rest of the story.

Media sellers shouldn't act as if their media is all things to all clients. Explain what your media does well and offer ways to do that well for a select number of clients who believe in you and your product. The most successful sellers that I know are those that have carved out a personal brand in the market place. They enjoy long-lasting, deep relationships with clients that commit a significant percentage of their media expenditures to them and then honor them further with recommendations and references. Those are the media sellers that have chosen to stand for something.

The other day, I ran into the TV rep that was the source of the initial referral and I asked him what it was like doing business with his attorney client. Turns out the attorney is never satisfied with the number of leads generated by his TV ads and is constantly harassing the TV rep for more spots, better times and cheaper rates.

Of course! One is almost always dissatisfied when using a stapler to do a hammer's job.

Tim J.M. Rohrer is a recognized leader in sales and sales management. He writes about his experiences in advertising sales on his blog at http://www.salesandmarketingloudmouth.com. Currently employed as a Sales Manager at Radio One in Atlanta, he can be reached through e-mail at timrohrer@comcast.net.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Are You Missing This Tasty Sales Strategy?

Kim Duke is a sales and business expert who takes a fun look at sales advice. I always enjoy reading her tips, and I think you will too!

This weekend some friends were visiting AND sleeping in our tree houses. The weather was so beautiful we decided to take them to "Taste of Edmonton".

"Taste of Edmonton" is a cool, outdoor event with music and entertainment BUT the star of the show are all the outdoor booths you buy food from. You buy tickets for $1 which you use at each booth. (Hundreds of thousands of people come to this event.)

Each little tent/booth is a local restaurant offering 2 sample dishes. Each dish is in the 2-4 ticket range. Easy to see what you're getting and easy to buy.

It is an absolute blast! As we were walking around tasting pad Thai, bison skewers and to-die-for green onion cake, my friend Lynda said with a SMACK of her lips...
"I LOVE THIS! It is such wonderful way to "taste" a restaurant you haven't tried before and see if you'd like to go there!"

Everyone was walking around with the Taste of Edmonton menus which highlighted what each restaurant was offering. We were circling the ones we liked and ignoring the rest.

Most of the restaurants "GOT IT" and were offering some of their most famous dishes. They had long line-ups. A few "DIDN'T GET IT" and were offering something cheap and boring and, you guessed it, no line-ups for them.

Are You Offering "A Taste" To Potential Customers?

I've lived in this area for 11 years and there were restaurants I hadn't heard of or tried. I will now! I'd bet that in your community there are still LOADS of PEOPLE who have NEVER HEARD OF YOU. (Which makes it pretty impossible for them to buy from you, doesn't it?)

You need to get out there and offer a "taste" of your business!

How? Articles, actual samples, video, getting some media exposure, offering tips on Facebook and Twitter and so much more....allow potential customers to TRY YOU OUT. Risk free.

When people can't "taste and try" they tend to play it safe. (And NOT buy from you)
Remember - make it easy for people to "taste and try" and you attract customers much faster, easier and cost effectively than advertising your face off.

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Email and Voice Mail Secrets Proven to Work

Often times, the waiting is the hardest part. You've made calls and sent emails, and now you're waiting. Ugh! Thankfully, sales trainer Mike Brooks has some ideas that will definitely shorten that waiting period. Read on and let us know what you think!

Last week I spoke at the first Los Angeles chapter meeting of the AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals), and it was great. What I especially liked about it was that it gave me and all those in attendance the chance to share current techniques and skills that are working in today's business environment. Networking in this way with other professionals who are struggling with and overcoming the same problems as you is how you come up with new and fresh ideas that not only work, but that make you better in the process.

The topic I spoke on was how to leave voicemails that get returned, and after my talk we had a discussion on what was working for people. This voicemail discussion led to what was working for emails as well, and I think we all got some really valuable ideas on what gets the most responses. Here they are:


The most effective voice mail message was a short, somewhat vague one, but the person who shared it said she gets the most amount of call backs from it. It goes like this:

"Hi _________, I saw your profile on LinkedIn and I think it might make sense for us to talk - please give me a call back when you get this. My name is ______ _______ and my number is (your number)."

That's it! We all agreed that the reason this works so well is that it gets people's curiosity up. People wonder what it could be about and then call back. You would, wouldn't you?

The next is an email message that was shared and it had a great subject line and a good message that gets a smile. The person who shared this said that she uses it for prospects she's already sent her information too and for some reason they aren't responding to her calls. Here's what she does that almost always gets a response:

Subject line of her email is: "Should I stay or should I go?"

Great subject line from the title song by The Clash - you probably know it and are already singing the song in your head... And here's the body of the email:

"_________ I haven't heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You've already chosen another company for this and if that's the case please let me know so can I stop bothering you,
2) You're still interested but haven't had the time to get back to me yet.
3) You've fallen and can't get up and in that case please let me know and I'll call 911 for you...

Please let me know which one it is because I'm starting to worry... Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you."

Are you smiling again? It's no wonder that people respond to this. Besides making someone smile, what I like about this is it gives prospects a way out. It lets them know that it's OK if they aren't going to move forward with you, and as I've written before, it's better to know in advance than to keep chasing and begging.

Also, in some cases people really are still interested and using this approach will get them to let you know that, too.

Mike Brooks, MrInsideSales.com, 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: www.MrInsideSales.com.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you're ready or not, to put this plan into action." -- Napolean Hill, Motivational Writer

The reason I like this quote so much is the part that says, "whether you're ready or not." It's easy to spend a lot of time planning, going over every detail, making sure it's just right. The hard part is actually putting the plan into action, because you can always say something isn't ready or right.

Lose the procrastination and get started on whatever plans you have!