Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stretch Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what you do.

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

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

Here's the power behind this approach.

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

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

That's when an interesting mental shift occurs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Always On

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

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

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

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

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

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3 Keys to Reaching Your Financial Goal in 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's key number one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best for 2011!

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

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

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ask the End-of-Year Cleansing Question

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

Here's an email question from a subscriber:

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

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

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

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

Sixty percent? More? Less?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think of the possible results here.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ask Strategic Questions to Create Goals and Visions

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

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

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

Focus on strategic thinking with questions like these:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons From the Year

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

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

Here are some of the items I learned this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the Week

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Twist on Getting Referrals

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keeping Customers Focused

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Earn the Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No More Small Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

SalesDog Quick Tip

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

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

Quick and easy!

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeping the Clients You Have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop Putting Off Till January What You Should Do Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

4 Strategies for Beating Your Competition

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

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

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

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

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

Strategy Two: Do not try to persuade or convince.

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

Strategy Three: Sell unique results, not your products.

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

Strategy Four: Do not focus on the sale.

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Week

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

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Are Selling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Early Warning Signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SalesDog Quick Tip

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

Never be Too Busy Selling to Prospect

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

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