Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Three Tips for Feeling Better and Selling More

by Michael Dalton Johnson

Take a deep breath.

You've heard, "Take a deep breath," many times, especially when you are in a stressful situation. It's good advice that I would amend to, "Take a series of deep breaths."

When you are feeling frustrated, hemmed in, or stressed out, I recommend sitting quietly for at least five minutes and breathing deeply.

Deep breathing is an effective way to center yourself, clear your mind, and refocus your energy. It's a scientifically proven fact that breathing deeply for a few minutes causes almost instant relaxation in tense situations.

Fly with the eagles.

The body has its own laws. One of the most important is the law of circadian rhythm, which requires that you get adequate quality sleep on a set schedule. Get to bed early, sleep soundly; rise early, and you'll awake ready to take on the world. You'll gain a big edge, think more clearly, and be more productive.

Conversely, when you've partied until the wee hours, you won't accomplish much the following day. The folksy advice given to me years ago by my foreman at a steel fabricating plant says it all, "You can't wallow with the hogs at night and fly with the eagles in the morning."


A smile is a light in the window of a face, which shows that the heart is home. —Anonymous

Smiling and laughing boost your well-being, reduce anxiety and stress, and enable you to cope with difficult situations.

Weird as it sounds, you smile when you're happy and happy when you smile. The very act of smiling can make you happier, even if it's a fake smile!

Studies conducted by Robert B. Zajonc at Stanford University show that when you smile, facial changes have effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness.

Start smiling and laughing more today. Simply by acting like you're happy and enthusiastic makes you happy and enthusiastic. Few things are more inviting than a smile. It invites a familiar approach and is disarming.

Excerpted from Rules of the Hunt: Real-World Advice for Entrepreneurial and Business Success, McGraw Hill. Get your copy at Amazon.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Power Tips

Power Tips
by Michael Dalton Johnson
Everybody likes to buy, because buying is fun. If you don't believe this, try to find a parking space at a shopping mall, or a seat at an auction, this weekend. However, while buying is fun and exciting, nobody likes to be sold. The truth is: the best salespeople don't "sell" their customers; they help them buy.

Get emotional. When presenting your product or service, do not attempt to appeal strictly to the buyer's rational mind with a list of perfectly logical reasons to buy. Instead, fire their imaginations, and appeal to their emotions. Stress the benefits and rewards of owning your product or using your services. If possible, have them hold your product in their hands. Use colorful verbal illustrations that stress benefits. Sprinkle in some brief case histories. Be likeable. Have some fun. Above all, let the customer do most of the talking. Take the pressure to buy out of the experience, and the successful close will come naturally.

What buyers want. In most business-to-business sales situations, the central question on buyers' minds is, "What's in it for me?" Take note: the question is, "What's in it for me?" not, "What's in it for my company?" Let prospects know how your product or service will help them to:

  • Make their jobs easier
  • Look good to management
  • Gain respect and prestige
  • Advance their careers
  • Be appreciated
  • Save time
  • Have some fun and excitement
  • Stay ahead of the competition
  • Minimize their personal risk
Remember, the central question you must answer for the prospect is, "What's in it for me?"

Respect your buyer's intelligence. Speak to your potential customer as if you were talking with an intelligent, yet uninformed friend. Do not insult your prospect's intelligence with inane leading questions such as, "We all want to save time and money, right?" Instead, simply state, "Our product will save you both time and money," and immediately follow this statement with a brief example or two. Allow the prospect to respond to your time and money-savings premise. A high-pressure "What's there to think about?" approach doesn't work in today's business environment. Your buyers are smart, and deserve your respect.

What's in a name? There is no sweeter music than the sound of one's own name. Try to use your prospect's name a couple of times during your sales presentation. However, don't overdo it, or you'll sound insincere and patronizing. If your buyer's name is difficult to pronounce, get the correct pronunciation from the receptionist or secretary. Write it out phonetically, and say it aloud a few times before your meeting.

The nose knows! Do not overwhelm your client's olfactory sense. It is a major turnoff for buyers when a salesperson reeks of perfume, cologne, or aftershave. Prospects will often cut the meeting short just to escape the smell. Rule of thumb: use only enough fragrance that if a loved one were nuzzling your neck, the scent could barely be detected.

Be on time, but don't come early. While this seems painfully obvious, you might be surprised to learn how many sales folk show up late, with some lame excuse. Arriving too early for a meeting is nearly as bad. Never arrive more than ten minutes before your scheduled appointment. Being punctual shows respect and good business form, and will get your meeting off to a good start.

Create powerful imagery. Instead of saying to a business owner, "Your employees will really appreciate this program," consider saying with a smile, "Your employees will stand up and applaud you for giving them this program." Don't worry; the buyer will allow this bit of poetic license. Even though he knows his employees won't really stand up and applaud, the mental image of them doing so is powerful.

Beware the time bandits. Everyone needs a break from the action. However, 20 minutes a day wasted on office small talk, surfing the Net, or personal phone calls adds up to two full weeks a year in lost production. How many sales could you make in two weeks? Eliminate these time bandits, and watch your productivity climb.

Don't interrogate buyers. A recent article in a leading sales publication advised "intense questioning" of prospects to determine their needs. The writer included a laundry list of questions that were both intrusive and transparent. Sophisticated buyers perceive too many probing questions, especially in the first stages of a meeting, as a pitch-tailoring sales tactic—which, of course, is exactly what it is. If you get prospects talking and follow the 80/20 Rule—you listen 80% of the time and talk only 20% of the time—many of your questions will be answered before you even ask them. Sure, you still have to ask questions and seek clarification. But your fact-finding process should flow naturally in response to buyers' comments and conversational pauses. Do not put them on the hot seat.

Breaking the ice. Some telephone cold-call gurus will tell you to offer a pleasantry or two after introducing yourself. They are wrong. Avoid the opening, "How are you?" When spoken over the phone to a stranger, the phrase reeks of insincerity. You might as well scream, "I am a salesperson!" Instead, employ a more businesslike opening, such as, "The reason I'm calling you this morning is to learn about your company's personnel needs, and to see if we can be of help." In other words, after introducing yourself, state the reason for your call. Prospects will appreciate your honesty and respect for their time and intelligence. Only ask, "How are you?" after you've progressed beyond the initial contact, and a relationship has been established.

Don't answer a question with a question. Again, contrary to conventional sales training wisdom, never answer a question with a question. This tactic is usually perceived by the prospect as evasive. For example, if your buyer asks, "When can you ship?" do not respond, "When do you need it?" This strategy diminishes your credibility. Simply tell him your average shipping time, and ask if that works for him. If not, go to bat for him, and if possible, get it for him when he wants it.

Look sharp. The old cliché about dressing for success especially holds true in sales. Your clothes and personal grooming speak volumes about you to buyers, co-workers, and management. If you are looking good, you are undoubtedly feeling good, and you will close more sales. Take a critical look at your appearance, keeping in mind that shoes are one of the first things noticed. Your working wardrobe should be made up entirely of the following materials: cotton, wool, silk, linen and leather. That's it. For men, facial hair is generally a negative. (Name the last politician elected to the presidency who had a moustache or beard.) There are several good books on sharp dressing and good grooming. John T. Molloy's New Dress for Success is an update of the classic.

Never thank anyone for taking your call. This seemingly polite gesture immediately puts you in a subordinate role—and subordinates are easily dismissed. For the same reason, when you finally make contact with a difficult-to-reach prospect, never open with, "You're a hard person to get hold of!"

Mood follows form. When you feel in winning form, you smile, stand up straight, and walk with confidence. On some gloomy, depressing day, try this: smile, stretch, and strut. You will feel your mood begin to lighten as your physical actions mimic those of a winner. The same thing goes for your phone personality. If you sit up straight and smile, you will begin to feel self-confident and purposeful. Your voice will reflect those qualities, and you will enjoy more successful contacts with prospects and clients.

Let the buyer lead. While you always want to maintain subtle control of your conversations with prospective buyers or clients, modify your pace and style to match theirs—sort of like dancing. If your customer likes to chat, by all means indulge in a little small talk. Conversely, do not ask Mr. Down-To-Business about his weekend plans. If a client has a breezy, big-picture personality, do not bog him down with details. This personality type loves to hear, "I'll take care of everything for you." However, if a prospect has questions about every detail, take the time to carefully review the nuts and bolts with him. Reading your buyer's personality and conversational style will pay big dividends in increased sales.

Buyers are like cats (and you're probably a dog!) Just like our feline friends, buyers can be a difficult lot: suspicious, wary, finicky, independent, aloof. If you chase after one, it always runs. If you attempt to coax it, it invariably ignores you. However, if you sit quietly, letting the cat take its time and make up its own mind, before you know it, it's purring on your lap.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Four Biggest Time Wasters

The Four Biggest Time Wasters
by Dave Kahle
Do you make the best use of your time? Or do your bad habits cause you, like so many people, to waste time and accomplish less than you should? Getting salespeople to practice good time management has been an obsession of mine for three decades. Over the years, I've seen some patterns and tendencies in salespeople that detract from their effective use of time. Here are the four most common time wasters I’ve observed.

The Allure of the Urgent and Trivial

Salespeople love to be busy and active. We have visions of ourselves as people who get things done. No idle dreamers, we are out there making things happen. For most of us, a large part of our self-worth and personal identity depends on being busy. At some level, we believe that being busy means we must be important. One of the worst things that can happen to us is to have nowhere to go and nothing to do. So we latch onto every task that comes our way, regardless of its importance.

For example, a customer calls with a back order problem. "Oh, good!" we think, "Something to do! I’m needed! I can fix it!" So we drop everything, and spend two hours expediting the back order  In retrospect, couldn't someone in purchasing or customer service have taken care of that task? Couldn't they have done it better than we did? More importantly, did we just allow something that was somewhat urgent but trivial prevent us from making sales calls? And would those potential sales calls have been a much better use of our time?

Or suppose a customer hands us a very involved "Request for Quote." "Better schedule a half-day at the office," we think, "in order to look up specifications, calculate prices, compile literature, and all that other stuff." Immediately we become involved with working on this project for our customer. But couldn't we have asked an inside salesperson or customer service rep to do the legwork? Couldn't we have communicated the guidelines to someone else, and reviewed the finished proposal? Once again, we succumbed to the lure of the present task. And once again, it prevented us from making sales calls, and siphoned our energy from the important to the seemingly urgent.

I could offer page after page of examples, but you get the idea. We salespeople are so enamored with being busy and feeling needed that we grab at any task that comes our way, regardless of how unimportant it is. Each time we do, we compromise our ability to use our time more effectively.

The Comfort of the Status Quo

Many salespeople have established habits and routines that make them feel comfortable. They make enough money, so they don’t want to expend the energy it takes to do things in a better way, or become more successful or effective. Some of our routines work well for us. However, our rapidly changing world demands new methods, techniques, habits, and routines. Just because something has worked for us for a few years doesn't mean it will continue to do so. When we’re so content with the status quo that we haven’t changed anything in years, we’re not as effective as we could be.

For example, you still might be writing phone messages down on little slips of paper, when entering them into your contact manager would be more efficient. Perhaps you continue to keep track of vital customer information manually, when contact management software makes that task easier. These are simple examples of a principle that extends to the most important things you do. Are you using the same old routines for organizing your workweek, determining who to call on, understanding your customers, and collecting information? Or do you look for new and better ways to perform these essential activities? Contentment with the status quo almost always means you’ll never realize your full potential.

Lack of Trust

Salespeople have a natural tendency to work alone. We decide where to go and what to do, and are pretty much on our own all day long. It’s no wonder we generally prefer to do everything ourselves. In most cases, this is a positive personality trait for a salesperson to have. But when it extends to tasks that could be done better by others, it becomes negative. Instead of soliciting aid from others in the organization, many salespeople insist on "doing it themselves", no matter how redundant and time-consuming the task. The world is full of salespeople who don’t trust their own colleagues to write an order, source a product, deliver a sample or literature, research a quote, submit a proposal, et cetera. But many of these tasks can be done better or cheaper by other people in the organization. When salespeople refuse to release these tasks because they don’t trust others to do them, the result is a tremendous waste of good selling time and talent.

Lack of Tough-Minded Thoughtfulness

Ultimately, time management begins with thoughtfulness. In fact, I like to say that good time management is a result of "thinking about it before you do it." Good time managers invest in this process. They set aside time each year to create annual goals; they invest planning time every quarter and every month to create short-term action objectives; and they plan every week and every sales call. Poor time managers do not dedicate sufficient time to the "thinking about it" phase of their jobs.

Not only do good time managers invest in the planning process, they are disciplined and tough-minded about how they think. They ask themselves good questions, and answer them with as much objectivity as they can muster. For example:

  • What do I really want to accomplish in this account?
  • Why aren't they buying from me?
  • Who is the key decision-maker on this account?
  • Am I spending too much time on this account, or not enough on that one?
  • How can I change what I am doing in order to become more effective?
In addition to regularly asking these kinds of tough questions, good time managers don’t allow their emotions or comfort zones to dictate their plans. They go where it is smart to go and do what it is smart to do. They do these things because they've invested the necessary amount of quality thinking time.

There are hundreds of time-wasting habits in the sales world, but these four are the most common. Correct them, and you will be well on your way to dramatically improved results.

Dave Kahle is one of the world's leading sales educators. He's written ten books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly E-zine, and for a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses when you obtain a copy of his book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

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