Thursday, March 31, 2011

You Don't Have to Answer Every Question

Today's selling point from communication expert Dianna Booher has an excellent point - you don't have to answer every question! If you're uncomfortable with a question, there are ways of deflecting it without stammering or turning beet red! Booher explains:

Growing up, we had to answer every question the classroom teacher asked, and that feeling of "must" still lingers. There are several ways you can deflect a question you don't want to answer, with or without giving a reason: "If I understand your question correctly, you're really asking if...," and give your own interpretation. "Your question prompts me to ask you something first. Is..." "I don't think that question has an answer." "The answer to that question would be purely speculative."

You can also use humor to deflect a question: "What a question! Do you want to get me fired?" (said with a light tone). "Don't we all wish we had the answer to that one...I'd settle even for half an answer." "You must have spent all night phrasing that question; give me a couple of weeks to come up with an answer, will you?"

If you're unsure whether the questioner has manipulative intentions, you can always ask the reason for the question or explain your reluctance in a straightforward way: "I'm curious. Why do you ask that question?" or "Under the circumstances, I don't think I want to answer that question" or "Such a question makes me a little uncomfortable. I'm not in a position to know all the related facts."

Sometimes not answering the question is the best response.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Worst Tele-Prospecting Questions You Can Ask - Part 2

Today we're sharing the second part of this article from sales trainer Jim Domanski. Make sure you're not asking any of these questions during your prospecting calls!

Worst Question #3: What do you like about your current supplier?

In effect, here's what you are saying to the prospect, "Tell all the great things about your current vendor so that you will convince yourself not to make a change. Remind yourself why you made this brilliant choice in the first place so that you can pat yourself on the back."

Forgive the sarcasm. But this question is definitely maddening. It does nothing to help your selling cause. It builds your competitor up and because the prospect is articulating their merits it'll be awfully hard to knock them down.

Instead, ask the prospect what they like to see in a vendor. Let the prospect tell you about the ideal service they would like to get. See how you compare. Don't even bother with the current competitor. Who cares? It's not what they do, it's what YOU do.

Worst Question #4: Is there anything you don't like about your current vendor?

Think about this one for a moment. The prospect doesn't know you from Adam or Eve and out of the blue you are asking him/her to divulge the faults and flaws of your competitor. How often do you think that's going to work?

It's not.

Sure, if you get lucky you might find a flawed vendor and an annoyed prospect. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut. But in the vast majority of the calls you make, this question will get you a blunt "no." Like Maddening Question #3, the prospect is reminded that there's nothing wrong with their current supplier or, at best, better the devil they know then the devil they don't. Net result? Resistance to change.

Stick with what they'd like to see in a vendor. Determine what elements are the most important (price, delivery, selection, terms etc.) Create a general question like, "Are you getting all those elements all the time?" Ask if they've ever been caught short? Ask what they do if there's a delay or if a product is unavailable? Ask if they have a back up plan?

These questions can open doors, not close them.

Worst Question #5: what do I have to do to earn your business?

And finally...

This maddening question has been around for decades and has been driving your prospect nuts for just as long. In their mind what you are really saying is this, "Make this easy for me because I don't really want to work at it. Tell me what you want so I don't have to probe and find out."

Prospects resent this. It's lazy. And those that give you an answer often give you ridiculous answers like, "I want free shipping on every order over ten bucks...and oh...I want 120 days... oh... forget the days, how about consignment?"

Look, if you don't know how to probe for needs, start learning now!

Questions can work for you or against you. Think about your questions before you ask!

By Jim Domanski of Teleconcepts Consulting. Please visit Jim's web site at for additional articles and resources for tele-sales professionals.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Worst Tele-Prospecting Questions You Can Ask

Today and tomorrow we will be featuring sales trainer Jim Domanski and his tele-prospecting advice. Specifically, how you can avoid asking the worst tele-prospecting questions ever! I know I've been guilty of a few of these at some time or another, so you probably have too. Don't worry - they're easy to fix!

Questioning a prospect is a good thing, right? Questioning builds rapport, uncovers needs, gathers information, and identifies possible objections. There are lots of benefits.

Or so it would seem.

But the truth of the matter is that there are some questions that telephone users should utterly avoid. They annoy your prospects and they can threaten the success of your call. Here are the four most maddening questions of all time. Purge them from your calling process.

Worst Question #1: How are you today?

Nothing, absolutely nothing, puts a prospect on the defensive faster than this question!

While YOU might think it's a real rapport builder the vast majority of your prospects think just the opposite. When surveyed well over 90% of prospects felt that the question is trite and insincere. They found it 'wastes time' but perhaps more significantly, it puts them on their guard because it creates a stereotypical (and negative) image of an invasive "telemarketer" who is trying to sell them something.

Look, the bottom line is this: you don't really care how the prospect is, do you? You want a sale, lead or an appointment. And they KNOW that. They know you don't care. They know it's a filler question.

So why would you use it?

It buys you absolutely nothing and it may cost you a lot. It may tarnish your 'professional' image.

Worst Question #2: Did I catch you at a good time?

This question is a real sales killer. Hands down.

While asking a prospect 'is now is a good time' is polite and considerate, what it really does is provide a ready-made excuse to terminate the call. Picture the scene: how many times have you asked that question and the prospect says, 'Ya, sure...It's a great time! I wasn't doing anything important. In fact, I was just sitting here with my feet on the desk hoping that a sales rep would give me a call and pitch me?"

Rarely happens, right?

Of course, some prospects do say yes but the majority don't. At the moment they say 'no' you flounder and stumble around a bit and murmur something about calling later or 'when is a good time.' If the prospect does give you a time, they are never there when you make your follow up call. Waste of everyone's time and energy.

I am all for polite and courteous tele-prospecting. But instead of putting your call in the chopping block, try this, "_____, If I have caught you at a good time what I would like to do is ask you a few questions, get a feel for you situation and see if there might be a way ...(insert your benefit).'

Positioned this way, the client gets a feel or a sense that you have been polite about the 'time' thing but you are not really asking about the time; you're asking about questions. If you move seamlessly into your first question, your client will likely answer.

This subtle but extremely effective technique can dramatically change your contact rate and help you convert more contacts to sales or leads. Use it.

By Jim Domanski of Teleconcepts Consulting. Please visit Jim's web site at for additional articles and resources for tele-sales professionals.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quote of the Week

"A vision is a clearly-articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with direction." -- Jesse Stoner Zemel

I love the idea of a "dream with direction." We've been taught since we were little to dream big, but those dreams often seem unrealistic and unattainable. Having direction is what really makes dreams possible.

Direction means your dream has a plan, with action steps that take you closer to it day by day. It also means your dreams are possible - and whether you reach them is up to you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

5 Steps to Believing YOU Can

I think this article is perfect for a Friday, especially if it's been a long, hard week and you're in need of a pick-me-up to power through the day. Today sales trainer Rochelle Togo-Figa shares the steps to believing in yourself - no matter what life throws your way. Be strong, believe in yourself, and have a great Friday!

A key step to creating success in your life starts with believing in yourself and believing you can do it. When you have a powerful positive belief system, nothing can shake your foundation. It is the core of who you are.

Do you believe in yourself? The best way to answer this question is to look at where your life is right now. Do you have all the things you really want in your life? Are you satisfied with what you've accomplished? Do you believe your wishes/dreams will come true?

We may want to believe we can have anything we want, yet something gets in the way of that happening. And that "something" can be limiting thoughts. Those nasty little thoughts sneak in and keep us from feeling good about who we are.

It's not unusual after you take on something big in your life, like starting your own business or doing something you've never done before, to have all your doubts and fears come up. Some familiar thoughts you may have are, "Can I do this?" "What if I fail?" "Am I good enough?"

I can remember when I decided I wanted to take my business to the next level; I was so excited. I knew it was time to play a bigger game but then those nasty thoughts started to creep in. There was always this little voice in my head saying, "You don't have what it takes. You're not smart enough. What if you fail?" I knew if things were going to change, it was up to me to make those changes. I then took the steps to shifting my thinking forever.

Here are 5 steps I created to help you to believe you can:

1. Love yourself for who you are. Before you can let love in, you must first learn to love who you are. We are all whole and complete just as we are. We all came into this world as magnificent human beings fully expressed. Sadly, many people walk around feeling there is something wrong with them and with the world. And, they're never satisfied with what they have or who they are. They never appreciate what they've accomplished because they're always thinking "what's next?"

The good news is nothing's wrong, there's nothing to fix, there is no where to get to because you're already there. There is nothing you need to do to make yourself better because you're perfect just as you are.

2. Trust. So often, we walk through life with an expectation that things "should be" a certain way. And, when that doesn't happen, we're upset, frustrated, and angry. We then make ourselves and others wrong. We start walking around complaining and blaming others.

There were many times when I was frustrated about my business. I had limiting thoughts like, "Why don't I have more clients? I'm never going to make the money I want to make."

I then took on practicing a new way of thinking. I consciously changed my thoughts and focused on trusting it would turn out. And each morning, I would think of what I wanted in my life and business and say, "I trust it will come to me." When I did that, the door of abundance opened up and new opportunities flowed in.

3. Appreciate your accomplishments. If you want to attract more abundance into your life, slow down and allow yourself to be present to your accomplishments. When we take the time to do this, we're opening up a space of more of the same to come to us.

Think about it this way. If you spend most of your time thinking about what you don't have, what do you think you'll attract the most? That's right! You attract that which you focus on the most. Most times we rush through life thinking about the next thing rather than appreciating what have right now.

When you take the time to appreciate your accomplishments, you are allowing yourself to bask in the victory of what you have achieved.

4. Be Grateful. Quite often, people dwell on what they don't have and complain why they don't have what they want. And the more they do that, the more they perpetuate the same. Remember, like attracts like. They focus on the future and that some day they'll have more money or more clients.

It's just as important to your happiness to take time to be grateful for the things you have right now and have already accomplished. When you do that, you're immersing yourself in the positive energetic forces of life that are around you. And, what you focus your attention on most is what comes to you. The more you are grateful for, the more you open yourself up to attracting more of the same.

Here's a brief statement taken from Joe Vitale's book, The Attractor Factor. "Feel thankful for your life, your lungs, your home, it doesn't matter. Once you feel gratefu l, you are in an energy that can create miracles."

5. Choices. You are where you are because of choices you made. The choices we make in our lives help to make us who we are today. If you don't like what you have, you can change it. When you decided to start your business that was a choice you made.

Each day we have thousands and thousands of thoughts. We may not think we can choose our thoughts but that's because we think we have no say in how we think. However, the truth is, if we don't like the thoughts we have, we can change them and choose more positive thoughts.

Every day you get to choose how the day is going to go. So why not make it a great one! It's a conscious choice you make to believe in yourself and you can start today.

Rochelle Togo-Figa, The Sales Breakthrough Strategist, is the creator of the Inner Game of Sales, a proven step-by-step sales process that will help you close more sales, sign on more clients and make more money with ease and velocity. To sign up for her free sales articles and teleclasses on closing more sales, visit

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Are You Putting Off?

Today sales trainer Kelley Robertson shares some important advice on getting things done - rather than putting off what you don't want to do.

If you're like many people in sales and in business, you are probably NOT doing something that you should be.

It might be cold calling, attending networking events, writing an article for an industry magazine, improving your product knowledge, or enhancing your selling skills. Perhaps you need to follow up with a challenging customer or research a new prospect's business so you can properly position your solution.

Let's face it, sometimes-actually quite often-the tasks people put off doing are the precise ones that will help them increase their sales. Unfortunately, these activities are usually less enjoyable so it's easy to procrastinate and focus on doing something that is more enjoyable.

Here's a suggestion.

Each day, focus on completing one activity that you don't particularly enjoy BEFORE you do anything else. Resist the urge to do something more enjoyable and resolve that you will complete that one task. Stick with it until you have finished that activity.

The major benefit of this approach is that your productivity will dramatically increase and your stress level will decrease. If you develop this habit, you will defeat procrastination and notice an improvement in your results.

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, March 23, 2011

Subject Line Matters!

As email prospecting becomes a bigger and bigger part of sales, salespeople have to become more and more creative to stay ahead. Getting a prospect to open your email has become increasingly difficult...sales trainer Mark Hunter explains why.

When you're sending an email to a person who may not know you well, do you know why it is so important to make your subject title short and clear?

I have one answer: Smartphones. It has become increasingly common for people to handle all of their email on their phones. What this means is that they are cruising through their email in-box on a much smaller device, and they are making quicker decisions as to where to allocate their time.

Your ability to capture someone's attention may come down to as few as 15 characters in your subject line! Be sure you are choosing them wisely. I wish the days still existed when we had a couple of paragraphs to really gain someone's attention. Sadly, though, some people are deleting emails before they even open them — based solely on the subject line.

I will even go as far as to say you should ALWAYS assume that any email you send to a customer or prospect is going to be read on a smartphone (and only a smartphone). The more refined your writing skills become, the greater likelihood you have of sending emails that actually get read!

Your subject line matters. More than you maybe realized.

Contact Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter for your next Conference or Sales Meeting. To see and hear Mark Hunter now visit

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sales Tip - Setting The Table for Success

Today business coach Tom Kelly shares how being up front during the sales process can help you build rapport with clients - and build your business!

The true effectiveness of a salesperson is measured by the results that he or she creates - the bottom line, so to speak. We all know that the bottom line in sales is how much business you close. What we often fail to realize is that an effective salesperson sets the table for the close, so that, in essence, they never really close deals - the customer does.

So, what do I mean when I say, "set the table for success"? Great salespeople start this process the first time they meet with a prospect by telling the prospect about the process they are going to take them through, when the decision points are, and what the salesperson's expectations are up front. This process lets the potential customer know what to expect, and allows the salesperson to gain commitment up front from the prospect, thus making it much easier to close business.

To give you an example, let's take the referral process. If you wait until after the customer has bought from you to ask for referrals, often times you won't get any. A better way to go about this is to tell your prospect when you first meet them that you work by referral. Then, tell them that you are not assuming that they will refer you business, but, if you meet their expectations, would they be willing to generate some referrals for you? Most people will answer yes to this question. Then, simply ask them what you need to do so that they will feel comfortable providing you with some referrals.

Following this process essentially "sets the table" for referrals. You now know what you need to do to satisfy their needs so that they will refer you business, and you also have their commitment to do so. After you have satisfied their needs, all you need to do is remind them of their commitment, and referrals are yours for the taking. You can use the same process of "setting the table" to set up your closes as well.

Keep in mind that great salespeople always "set the table for success". Use this technique in your daily sales process, and watch your business expand beyond your belief. Happy selling!

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost." -- Robert Schuller, Clergyman

It's easy to get down when you're working in sales, especially in today's ever-changing economy. What will get you through and keep you moving ahead is thinking positively and reminding yourself of everything you still have. No matter where you've been, what you have right now is what you need to focus on.

If you have less clients than last year, think about working closely with those clients to provide superior customer service. Reach out to them and start a referral network. Don't take them for granted - treasure them, and show them how hard you will work for them! That's how you grow your business!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Think Strategically. Execute Brilliantly.

Sales and presentation specialist Anne Miller has a way of getting me thinking with her blog posts. This one is no different! It got me thinking about what I could change to start thinking strategically and executing brilliantly!

Einstein was afraid that technology might outrun our humanity. Not sure he was talking about email and info overload, but his concern certainly applies in high stakes communication situations.

Technology has us all rushing around working faster and faster. Time to think has been lost. In a business world of increasing complexity, commoditization of offerings, and limited attention spans, failure to push back and protect your time to think can be fatal to your bottom-line.

Here are two examples of how failure to think strategically results in an inability to execute brilliantly.

In Presenting...

I see people failing to think in these basic, but critical, areas:
1. What is the clear, crisp, memorable message I want to leave with my listeners?
2. What is the specific appropriate next step I want from my listeners?
3. What are the best ways to visually support what I am saying?
Poor strategic thinking leads to confusion, longer sales cycles, and/or no sale.
In Negotiating...

I see people failing to think in these, again, basic, but critical, areas:
1. What will I ask for, what will I accept, what will I walk away from?
2. What can I trade to prevent deadlock?
3. What does the other side need to feel good about our agreement?

Poor strategic thinking here leads to weakened relationships, money left on the table, or no deal when one was possible.

Slow Down

Years ago, before our current tech info deluge, I used to say, laughingly, to seminar attendees, "Engage mind before mouth." Now, I say that in total seriousness. The stakes are too high to waste those precious face-to-face opportunities you have with clients. Think first. Execute second.

Sales and presentation specialist Anne Miller is the author of "Metaphorically Selling" and "Make What You Say Pay!". Check out her site at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Winners Are Problem-Solvers

I love thinking about selling as problem-solving. It's like each client is a puzzle that needs to be figured out! Today sales trainer Joe Guertin explains why the best salespeople are problem solvers.

The most productive salespeople are problem-solvers. You won't see them showing up at a customer's door to pitch their special rate plan of the week. No, the problem-solver is the one who is sitting down with the prospect, having a 'meeting of the minds' to discuss bigger picture needs, and brainstorming solutions. The problem-solver is seen by the customer as someone who is adding real value to their business, and not just there to close a sale.

So what 'problems' do they look for? Actually, they're looking for both problems and opportunities (though, for brevity, I'll just use the word 'problems' here). For example, a salesperson who sells school supplies to retail outlets will likely encounter price resistance from their competition. The salesperson can either try to beat the competitor's price, or can engage the customer in a discussion of problems, like the importance of on-time or just-in-time shipments, product quality and durability, end-user complaints, and supplier responsiveness. It's in these conversations that the problems are uncovered. That's where they find the real value, as defined by the customer, who can rationalize paying a little more if other problems (which are wasting their time or money) are taken care of.

The easiest technique for starting a problem-solving discussion is to ask a question that begins with "aside from price..." They'll take you directly to the problems they want to solve.

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, March 16, 2011

Five Keys to Generating High Quality Referrals

We all know the importance of referrals for building business, but what's really important is that those referrals are high-quality referrals. Today sales expert Paul McCord shares the secrets to generating high-quality referrals that get results.

From the time we enter the sales industry we've heard that referrals are by far the best prospecting and marketing method in existence. Yet, very few of us actually get very many high quality referrals.

Certainly some of us manage to get a name and phone number here and another there. A few of us will manage to get several. However, most of these "referrals" are worthless--just names and phone numbers of people or businesses that have no interest in or need for or can't afford our product or service.

Nevertheless, there are a few salespeople and business owners who have found a way to not only generate more than just a few referrals, but somehow they manage to generate enough high quality referrals to run very successful sales practices almost exclusively from the referrals they receive from their clients.

Do they have some great secret the rest of us don't know?

In a sense, they do know something most of us don't. They've learned that what most of us are doing to get referrals--just asking a question such as, "Ms. Client, do you know of anyone else that I might help"--doesn't work.

Moreover, they have learned ways that do work.

Let's look at five of the most basic things these mega-referral producers have learned:

Ask for referrals: Sounds stupid right? If you don't ask, how do you expect to get them? Unfortunately, over 50% of salespeople simply never ask--and the majorities who do 'ask,' really don't ask for referrals.

Really Ask: Asking means a direct request for referrals. Studies have also shown that the majority of salespeople and business owners who ask for referrals don't really ask--they suggest. They'll say something like "Don, if you happen to run across someone who could use my service, would you give them one of my cards?" and then they hand the client a bunch of cards--that usually go straight into the trash.

Let the client know who's a good referral: Very few salespeople ever define for the client exactly who a good referral is. They assume the client knows. Bad assumption. Clients aren't in your business. Why should they know? You have to let them know exactly who you're looking for.

Make the referral easy for them: Instead of making your client come up with the referral, do the work for them. During the course of the sale do some detective work and figure out who your client knows that you know you want to be referred to. Then, when it comes time to ask for referrals, make it easy for them. Say something such as, "Ms. Client, I've been trying to connect with Joe Blow at XYZ Company for quite some time and just haven't been able to make the connection. It dawned on me that you might know Joe. Do you know him?"

If I've done my homework well, I know--or at least have good reason to believe--the answer will be yes.

If I know my client trusts me and that I've done a good job for her, I then suggest the referral: "Great. Would you be comfortable introducing me to him?"

My client doesn't have to wonder who might make a good referral for me. She doesn't have to think. She doesn't have to do anything other than to utter one simple word, "yes." It's a lot easier for a client to say "yes" than it is to figure out who would be a good referral. It takes no time. It takes no effort. It's easy. I get a referral to someone that I know I want to be referred to.

Don't get names and phone numbers, get introduced. A name and phone number is just a name and phone number, not a referral. Get introduced to the prospect through an introduction letter, phone call, or lunch meeting.

Mega-referral producers have a detailed process they use to generate a large number of high quality referrals from every one of their clients--and even prospects. They have developed a disciplined and effective procedure they use with each client that leads to a predictable end--receiving a large number of high quality referrals.

But even without learning the process they use, if you simply implement these 7 simple tips, you'll increase both the number and quality of the referrals you receive from your clients immediately.

Paul McCord, a leading Business Development Strategist and president of McCord Training, works with companies and sales leaders to help them increase sales and profits by finding and connecting with high quality prospects in ways prospects respect and respond to. An internationally recognized author, speaker, trainer and consultant, Paul's clients range from giants such as Chase, New York Life, Siemens, and GE, to small and mid-size firms, as well as individual sales leaders. He is the author of the popular Sales and Sales Management Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get Your Prospect to Tell You the Truth

Sometimes finding out what a person is thinking is the hardest part of the sales process. Thank goodness business expert Tessa Stowe knows how to help you get your prospects to tell the truth!

When you talk to your potential prospects, do you feel they are not telling you the whole truth, and are even holding out on you? They seem to be giving superficial answers to your probing questions and leaving out a lot. You often feel that your conversations just skim the surface of what is really going on.

Instead, wouldn't it be great if your prospects really opened up and gave you really in-depth answers to your questions? How much would it help you if they told you what they really thought and what they really felt? Just think how much easier that would be, and imagine the positive impact on the speed and volume of your sales.

So how do you get a prospect to open up and tell you the whole truth? You have to change yourself! You must realize that you set yourself up for how your prospects respond to you. It's all the result of knowing how you present yourself and interact with them.

Suppose your intention is to make a sale when you have a conversation. So you ask your questions to get something - a sale. Your prospects will easily pick up that you are trying to get something, and they'll automatically try to protect themselves. So they'll withhold information from you, and that will make it much harder for you to get a sale.

Now suppose you ask questions and you are not really listening. Instead, you are already thinking about what to say next. Your prospect will quickly know that you are not listening. They'll conclude that there is no point in talking or explaining - so they won't. They'll say as little as possible - or maybe throw in some curve balls - so you can soon be on your way, and hopefully will not return.

Get the point? Perhaps you think that to sell, you need to act in a different way than the person you really are. For some reason, you believe you have to act like a "salesperson." Your prospect will pick up intuitively that you are not being authentic. As a result, they won't trust you, and they won't want to do business with you.

Instead of setting yourself up for failure in this way, just imagine the opposite. Now your intention is to find out if you can help someone. Now you are sincerely interested in both the answers to your questions and in really understanding them. Leave all the chatter in your head behind and be fully present in the conversation. Just be your authentic self.

What happens? How does that make you feel about having a sales conversation? How do you think it will make your prospects feel when they pick up on your changes? You'll both feel more relaxed. They'll feel you are authentic and that you really do care about giving them help instead of just getting a sale. In return, they will give you the kind of answers you need to really help them.

So before your next sales conversation, set yourself up to find out the whole truth. Change your sales approach, and watch how your prospects respond to the authentic you!

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, March 14, 2011

Quote of the Week

"It's not your position in life; it's the disposition you have which will change your position." -- Dr. David McKinley

I am a fairly optimistic person, but I definitely have those bouts of pessimism, where I feel like nothing can go right and if it can go wrong - it will. The thing I've come to realize is that when I'm feeling negative, negative things usually happen. Because I'm not looking out for the good, I miss it - and only notice the negative.

Sales is one of the most defeating jobs you can be in. The rejection can be so hard to deal with - especially if you're one to notice the negative rather than the positive. Try to look on the bright side, think hopeful thoughts, and recognize the good all around you - your positive outlook will help you to push yourself and reach new heights!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Marquee Account

There are some businesses that salespeople would love to have on their list of clients. Big, splashy names that say you're someone to work with. Those companies are great, but sometimes the costs can outweigh the benefits. Read on, before you decide you must have that big name account!

Problem: Tony was looking for advice on how to sell a high profile prospect who was constructing a large new distribution center in his territory. Tony's company sold and installed voice and data cabling and new construction was its primary market. Tony said that the buyer insisted that the business would go to the vendor who had the best price since they regarded voice and data cabling as a commodity, so clearly price would be the only real buying criteria. That, unfortunately, would virtually eliminate Tony's company since they were definitely not the low price alternative. He said he had probed extensively for pain and found none. The actual dollar value of the business was not great and Tony said he wanted to focus on better prospects, but Bill, his sales manager, was adamant that he continue pushing to get this business. Tony felt that his only real alternative was to drop the price and "buy" the business, but he was afraid they'd lose money on the deal. He felt trapped.

Analysis: Most business owners, sales managers and salespeople have their wish list of "marquee" accounts that they are desperate to have on their customer list. Having high profile accounts is a great idea, but some of these companies should not be on anybody's list. Sometimes they are just too difficult to do business with. However, this blind obsession often overrules good judgment. People become emotionally involved in selling these prospects and find it very difficult to take "no" for an answer. So they often offer concessions that do not make good business sense and they invest far too much valuable selling time trying to close the deal. While they're doing this they run the risk of neglecting existing customers, making costly concessions and missing some real opportunities for lack of time.

Prescription: Obsession may be a great name for a perfume, but it has no place in the world of sales. The more emotionally attached you are to a piece of business, the less objective you'll be. Have you ever celebrated after you won a big, high profile deal only to regret it later? If it's not good business for you, let your competition have it. (Letting them deal with low margin, problem accounts actually might be a good business strategy.) You should evaluate every piece of business on its merit, and if makes good business sense, go get it. Don't obsess with a big name account just because of the marquee value.

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, March 10, 2011

11 Things That Irk Decision Makers

Sometimes a quick, to-the-point list is the only way to go. Today sales trainer Kelley Robertson shares a list of things salespeople do that irk decision makers. Yikes! Make sure you're not doing any of these!

Sales people do a variety of things that irk decision makers and prospects and prevent them from moving the sales process forward. Here are 11 of them:

1. Sales people who can't articulate their value proposition.

2. Sales people who call to "touch base" or "check in".

3. Sales people that go overtime during sales calls and presentations.

4. Sales people who misrepresent themselves to executive assistants in order to get connected with the decision maker.

5. Sales people that ask basic questions that could be answered by a subordinate or a quick browse through the prospect's website.

6. Sales people that deliver a canned pitch, presentation or proposal.

7. Sales people who leave a long and rambling voice mail message with little or no value.

8. Sales people who claim their solution is "easy" to implement.

9. Sales people that use outdated closing tactics.

10. Sales people that waste time trying to "build rapport".

11. Sales people who misrepresent their offering.

Hopefully, you aren't guilty of irking your prospects with these. Once you instigate the irk factor, it becomes much more difficult to move the sales process forward.

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, March 9, 2011

5 Keys to Uncommon Email Prospecting Results

Email is a huge part of selling now - but it's definitely not easy! Today sales trainer Kendra Lee tells you how to get amazing results from email prospecting.

A big part of selling has always been finding a way to stand out from the crowd. Amazingly, that sometimes means just coming across like an actual person. Nowhere is this more true than with email prospecting and lead generation, where sending messages that look automated is the kiss of death in your prospect's in box.

Remember the Glimpse Factor - it takes prospects three seconds or less to decide whether they want to read your email, have time to deal with it, or can delete it without any consequences. And since deep down they might want to get rid of it and get back to work, it's up to you to make them feel like they need to respond right way.

Nobody answers mass marketing emails.

So, if a prospect is going to read your email, much less respond, it needs to seem like it came from a colleague, not a faceless Internet marketing firm. The best way to get uncommon email results is definitely to avoid looking like the common email marketer.

Here are a few things to try to increase your response rate.

1. Write subject lines that invite a quick response. If your prospect can't glean the purpose of your email from the headline, then it's probably not going to make it through the delete barrier. I like to use something that sounds personal like: "Can you talk Monday at 2pm?" Of course your subject must relate to the body of your email, so if you ask for a meeting Monday at 2pm, make sure you ask again in your email.

2. Start your email with a statement, not a question. How many messages do you send to your customers that begin with a question? That's right, none of them. Avoid the temptation to try to pique your prospect's interest with this tactic - it just doesn't work.

3. Use paragraphs rather than bullet points. This just tips contacts off to the fact that you're trying to sell them something. While your real objective is to make the email easier to read, your prospect is thinking "sales person - delete!" Use bullets once you have a working relationship, but stay away from them in your prospecting emails.

4. Send your message without fancy graphics or headers. There's nothing wrong with text, a few paragraphs, and a single link in your email message. Complicated layouts and pictures make it more likely that your note will be caught by a spam filter. And besides, how often do you put large graphic headers at the top of your client emails? The point is to look like you just dashed off a note to a colleague or customer, so forget the extras.

5. Write to another person. If your message doesn't read like something that could be spoken naturally, you have a problem. The idea is to connect with your prospect on a personal level and invite them to take action, not convince them that you're part of a faceless organization. Envision a customer and write your email as if you were sending it to him or her. Be sure that your message focuses on your prospects' issues or triggering events, not on your company. That's good selling advice in any situation, since customers care more about their needs than your generic solution features and benefits. Keep revising your emails until you have something that sounds natural and customer-focused, because that's what buyers - like all humans - respond to.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, read her latest articles, or to subscribe to her newsletter visit or call +1 303.741.6636.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Only those who constantly retool themselves stand a chance of staying employed in the years ahead." -- Tom Peters, Author

In today's economy, you have to be persistent, determined, and most of all - creative! Keep your sales process fresh and innovative, and be thinking ahead, and you'll stay at the top!

Friday, March 4, 2011

In a Sales Slump? How Watching Seinfeld Can Help

I love when people find sales inspiration in unlikely places - and business coach Tom Kelly found it in a very unlikely place - a Seinfeld episode!

I was watching an old re-run of Seinfeld the other day. The episode was called, "The Opposite". In the episode, George Costanza realizes that everything he's been doing his entire life has led to his current situation, a life of misery. So, he figures that if he does everything the opposite of what he has done in the past, he will create the opposite results. As the episode goes on, George ends up attracting a beautiful woman, a new job with the Yankees, and everything he touches turns to gold!

While the episode is pretty funny, there is something we can learn from it as sales people. Sometimes we get stuck in the routine of taking the same actions that we have always taken. Or, worse yet, we do the same things that every other sales person in our industry is doing.

Not to pick on the real estate industry, but this industry is a great example of this. Most real estate agents are a "dime a dozen" because they all follow the same steps, thus generating the same results. As a potential client, there is no difference between one agent and the next, and therefore no strong value proposition for the client.

I once asked one of my real estate broker clients how she consistently produced outstanding results with her business (she is in the top 1% nationally), and she told me that she looks at what all the other agents are doing, and does something completely different! Ah...the Costanza Principle in action! Beautiful!

So, I encourage you to take a look at your approach to selling, and if you aren't getting the results you want, consider doing something completely different, or even exactly opposite, of what you are doing now. You might find in the process that not only do you set yourself apart from the rest of your competition, but you also might find yourself with a large amount of new business!

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

Thursday, March 3, 2011

7 Disciplines for High Performance

Sales expert Brian Tracy always explains things in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-implement way. Today he discusses the seven disciplines you must develop to be at your best.

There are seven disciplines you must develop if you want to achieve all that is possible for you. You can learn these disciplines through practice and repetition until they become automatic.

Goal Setting
Every morning, take three to five minutes to write out your top goals in the present tense. Get a spiral notebook for this purpose. By writing out your ten goals at the beginning of each day, you will program them deep into your subconscious mind.

This daily goal writing will activate your mental powers. It will stimulate your mind and make you more alert. Throughout the day, you will see opportunities and possibilities to move more rapidly toward your goals.

Planning and Organizing
Take a few minutes, preferably the night before, to plan out every activity of the coming day. Always work from a list. Always think on paper. This is one of the most powerful and important disciplines of all for high performance.

Priority Setting
The essence of all time management, personal management, and life management is contained in your ability to set the proper priorities on the use of your time. This is essential for high performance.

Concentration on your Highest-Value Activities
Your ability to work single-mindedly on your most important task will contribute as much to your success as any other discipline you can develop.

Exercise and Proper Nutrition
Your health is more important than anything else. By disciplining yourself to exercise regularly and to eat carefully, you will promote the highest possible levels of health and fitness throughout your life.

Learning and Growth
Your mind is like a muscle. If you don't use it, you lose it. Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.

Time for Important People in your Life
Relationships are everything. Be sure that in climbing the ladder of success, you do not find it leaning against the wrong building. Build time for your relationships into every day, no matter how busy you get.

Action Exercise
These seven disciplines will ensure that you perform at the highest level and get the greatest satisfaction and results from everything you do. Study these seven disciplines and then make a plan for how you can incorporate each of them into your daily life.

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why You Need to Watch American Idol

American Idol isn't just important for keeping up with conversations around the water cooler - it's also a great source of sales tips and inspirations! Here's why sales trainer Kelley Robertson says you should be watching this show:

Here are 4 key lessons sales people can learn from American Idol.

EVERY performance counts. Many think that this "next performance" is their most important one or that it's okay to make a mistake because their previous performances have been good. However, in a competition like this, you seldom get a second chance.

Every sales call or meeting is important which means you need to make a favorable impression.

Winning requires emotional strength. It's not uncommon to see emotional breakdowns and watch people choke under pressure. Selling is no different. It gets tougher every year and the competition becomes fiercer.

You need more than natural talent. The people who progress through the competition listen to the judges and incorporate their feedback into subsequent performances.

How hard do you work at developing your sales talent? Do you read books, attend webinars, workshops and conferences?

Put 100 percent effort. This ties in with the first point but it goes a bit deeper. It is critical to put 100 percent effort into every performance, every practise, and every song. One performer put so much effort into his performance he burst into tears afterwards-he left everything on the stage.

Do you put EVERYTHING into all of your sales calls, meetings and presentations? Are you emotionally drained at the end of a day?

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, March 1, 2011

How to Lose Like a Winner

I often find sales trainer Tom Reilly's articles very inspirational. He looks at sales from a world view, or life view - meaning sales isn't everything. He puts sales into perspective. Today's article does just that!

Sales is a metaphor for life: You win some, and you lose some. In sales, you work hard for an order, but it may not happen. In life, you work hard to achieve a goal, but it may not happen. That's reality. The question is, "What do you do with that reality?"

Some people fail and choose to learn from it; other people fail and internalize it. Some people that fail re-dedicate themselves to their passions and give it another try. Some people that fail fill themselves with bitterness and resentment.

Learning from failure means treating it as feedback: What did you learn from the experience? Internalizing failure means believing that you are a loser versus seeing it as an outcome of your attempting to accomplish a goal or make a sale. On one hand, it is a learning experience; on the other hand, it is a blow to your self-esteem.

Harboring resentment toward another person - a boss, customer, or someone else - that got in the way of your achieving a goal is like taking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. Laura Hildebrand wrote in her new book, Unbroken, "The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer."

Winning feels good. Losing feels bad. Both, for a while. Then, it is time to get back to work. Feel the joy when you succeed. Feel the disappointment when you fail. Learn from both. Treat both as feedback. Liberate yourself by releasing the grip that resentment has on you, and you can lose like a winner.

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