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What’s Wrong With This Sales Call?

  
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Today I had a shocking sales conversation.  What made it worse, the person was selling sales training!  Imagine selling sales training to a sales training company – I’m not going to be their typical buyer!  Here’s how the conversation went:Sales Mistakes

Sales Rep:  Hello.  I understand you are in charge of training.

Alice:  Yes.

Sales Rep:  Lucky you. (chuckle)

Alice:  Yes, I agree.  Lucky me.

Sales Rep:  I’m with XYZ company (I will protect the company).  Do you know about us?

Alice:  Yes, I’m familiar with you.

Sales Rep:  Oh, good.  Can I tell you a little more detail about us?

Alice: (I’ve decided to be humored.) Yes.

Sales Rep:  For 3 minutes they mentioned all of the features of their on-demand 5 minute video sales training followed by:  May I ask you a few questions about your training needs?

Alice:  First, what do you know about me and my company?

Sales Rep:  I know you are in my database and came up for me to call you today.

Alice:  Okay, what do you know about me and my company?

Sales Rep:  I know your name, let me see if I can pull up the contact information with the name of your company.
(Silence)

No I can’t get that screen back.  Why don’t you tell me your company name and more about you?

Alice:  Why don’t you do a little research first and then call me back.

Sales Rep:  Can’t you tell me anything?

Alice:  Since I also am in the sales training business, what I can tell you is you are breaking Rule #1 in selling – you don’t know anything about me or my company.  No preparation.  Yet you’ve picked up the phone and called me expecting to make a sale or at least advance a sale.  Do your homework and call me back.

Sales Rep:  What good would that do me if you too are in the sales training business?

Alice:  Really?  You’re asking that?

Sales Rep:  Since you won’t tell me, I don’t see what good it would do me.

Alice:  Okay, good luck and good-bye!

OMG, this sales person is probably saying how rude I was, and possibly that anyone else they called and received a no was due to a bad list they were working from. 

Lesson to sales managers – emphasize to your sellers not to connect with anyone until they have thoroughly prepared with these steps:

  1. Identify the person and company contacting.  Visit their website, Linkedin and Twitter accounts to verify this is a potential customer.
  2. Determine the objective of the conversation. What do you want to accomplish? 
  3. List what you already know and the information needed to gain.  Now you have the gaps towards the objective.
  4. Create questions to confirm what you already know and discover the need to know information.  Quality, prepared questions guarantee effective and efficient collaborative sales conversations.
  5. Anticipate any barriers that would keep them from moving to the next step and prepare responses or additional questions.  This is often overlooked by sales people and is the main reason sellers struggle with objections.
  6. Answer for yourself: What would success look like for this conversation?  With this top of mind (along with the objective of the call) the conversation will be relevant and remain on track.

Follow good preparation practices and your sellers will never have a conversation like the one I had today. 

Let’s have some fun with this,what is the worst sales call you ever received?

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Sales Shebang Experts 2014

  
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2014 Sales Shebang
Since 2010 I’ve been privileged to be a member of Sales Shebang, an association of the leading sales and leadership experts in the world.  Of our 50 strong, 1 expert is from Australia, 3 from Canada and the rest from the USA. 

The Sales Shebang Conference is held annually for like minded thought leaders to share their business expertise amongst ourselves, broadening our business scope and abilities to better service world wide organizations.  This year we met in Seattle with an agenda dedicated to building better world wide companies, employees and opportunities. 

Allow me to introduce you to the Sales Shebang Experts (alphabetically by first names):

Alice Heiman – www.aliceheiman.com

Alice Kemper – www.salestrainingconsultants.com and 30MinuteSalesMeetings.com

Babette Ten Haken – www.babettetenhaken.com

Barbara Giamanco – www.barbaragiamanco.com

Barbara Weaver Smith – www.thewhalehunter.com

Bernadette McClelland – www.bernadettemcclelland.com

Carol Moser – www.syndergyfuelcoaching.com

Carole Mahoney – www.carolemahoney.com

Carolyn Coradeschi – www.rainmakermindset.com

Celina Guerrero- www.socialtosales.com

Colleen Francis – www.engageselling.com

Colleen Stanley – www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com

Deb Calvert – www.peoplefirstps.com

Gretchen Gordon – www.braveheartsales.com

Janice Mars  – www.saleslatitude.com

Jennifer Leake – www.assessmentpros.com

Jill Harrington – www.salesshift.ca

Jill Konrath – www.jillkonrath.com

Joanne Black – www.nomorecoldcalling.com

Julie Hansen – www.performancesalesandtraining.com

Kendra Lee – www.klagroup.com

Laura Posey – www.dancing-elephants.com

Lauren Bailey – www.factor8training.com

Lisa Dennis – www.knowledgence.com

Lisa Leitch – www.teneoresults.com

Lisa Magnuson – www.toplinesales.com

Liz Wendling- www.lizwendling.com

Lori Richardson – www.scoremoresales.com

Lynn Hidy – www.upyourtelesales.com

Nancy Bleeke- www.salesproinsider.com

Nancy Solomon – www.nancydsolomon.com

Shay Bellas – www.19oaks.com

Suzanne Paling- www.salesmanagementservices.com

Trish Bertuzzi- www.bridgegroupinc.com

And the fabulous support team –

Diane Easley – www.dianeeasley.com

Casey Putschoegl – www.33vincent.com

Paige McPheely – www.33 vincent com

 

The Sales Shebang website is a portal with all aspects of sales, leadership, coaching, speaking, sales enablement resources.  Check out the people and the resources available to VP of Sales and organizations who want the best talent.  We’ve made it easy for you – we’re all in one place – www.salesshebang.com

 

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Summer – The Ideal Opportunity for Your Business

  
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Guest blog by OREN D. SALTZMAN
Managing Member, Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC

“Summertime,” the iconic song from Porgy and Bess, starts with what, many believe, should be a motto for the summer: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”

This sentiment should not reflect actions relating to your business or the legal industry, however. In fact, summertime — when activity tends to slow down slightly — can be the ideal opportunity for your organization to step back and evaluate processes and strategies.

Do not lose this chance to examine every aspect of your business during the summer, in hopes of enhancing your business for the balance of the year.

Here are some examples of programs to remain productive all summer long:

  • Take a one- or two-day retreat with your management team. Discuss the victories from the beginning of the year. Identify the biggest opportunities to take advantage of and biggest threats to eliminate in the upcoming months. Help focus and gain alignment on the direction of your company. Go through your processes and determine if they can be streamlined or if there is a better way to meet the needs of your customers.
  • Revisit legal matters which require your attention such as contracts, leases or collection issues that take time and often are ignored. Work with a strong outside counsel to help identify these needs.
  • Review your prospect pipeline to create a process for improving and expanding this list. Take the processes you create and convert them into a workable list so that you can fit them into your summer schedule to meet or communicate with potential customers. Perhaps assign tasks to the appropriate staff in your office to help assemble the list.
  • Reconnect with existing customers. The best way to do this is to take current customers out for breakfast, lunch or coffee. Ask them how you can help them achieve their current goals and implement their own strategic plan. Customers who are doing well economically can better afford your services and help you to increase business.

At Adelberg Rudow we intend to develop a plan this summer to help us become a paperless law firm. Many of us also have pledged to spend more time working in the community to address and advance worthwhile causes.

We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with our clients and helping them to achieve their goals, no matter what the season. Here’s to a great summer!

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Words to Live By – Maya Angelou

  
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Maya Angelou Quotes – Words to Live By

April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

“Out of youth marked by pain and injustice, Dr. Maya Angelou rose with an unbending determination to fight for civil rights and inspire every one of us to recognize and embrace the possibility and potential we each hold.” President Barach Obama, upon awarding Dr. Angelou the Medal of Freddom in 2011.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Nothing will work unless you do.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

All great achievements require time.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.  Without courage, we cannot practice any other virture with consistency.  We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

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Tips to Sell in Today’s Ever Changing World

  
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Jill Konrath relates the story that shortly after her book SNAP Selling was published that salespeople were saying, “This is great info on selling to today’s crazy-busy prospects. But I’m frazzled too. How can you help me?”

Jill reflected on those comments and went from thinking it was a time managment problem to realizing it was a bigger issue.  Agile Selling

That with everything on the fast track of change from products, buying cycles, the economy, technology, and competitors today’s customers were expecting more.  They want their sales professional to bring them ideas, insights and information to help them be more successful.

For many sellers that’s a shift in thinking and along with being worried about meeting numbers- no wonder there’s a feeling of overwelm.

Jill figured it out and wrote AGILE SELLING.  It’s about keeping on top of your game in an ever-changing world.  She explores the mind-set, skills and habits that top producers need to get up to speed quickly and rapidly adapt to the changing conditions.

A few highlights from Agile Selling are:

  • Cheat sheets to maximize brain power

  • Trigger events that catalyze change

  • Buyers Matrix for indepth buyer information

Agile Selling is in alignment with our sales philosophy and mantra – buyers don’t need another sales person or supplier – what they do need and want is a strategic business partner.

Any seller interested in getting ahead of the curve and differentiating themselves from their competition will find the tips and solutions in this book.

 

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Sell Better and Sell More!

  
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Do you want to Sell Better and Sell More?

Our course you do!  Top performers constantly seek out best practices to have better sales conversations, improved close ratios and more quality sales than the year before.

Top performers also know that doing what they did last year, doesn’t guarantee this year’s success.  Heck, today’s buyers buying motives and patterns change so quickly the best sellers are adapting and adopting new best practices regularly.Sell More dreamstime xs 29546437 resized 600

With that in mind, 23 Top Sales Leading Experts collaborated with a handy e-book – Sell Better and Sell More.  This handbook is a powerhouse of ideas on strategy, positioning, process, skills and technology to build sales.

Get your copy now and enjoy these insights from Sell Better and Sell More:

Strategy/Positioning/Planning:

Grow Your Garden of Sales Opportunities – Babette Ten Haken @babettetenhaken

Stop Scaring Prospects! – Barbara Weaver Smith, Ph.D., @bweaversmith

What Do You Need to Stop Doing to Grow Revenues? – Colleen Stanley @EiSelling

You’re Fired! 3 Tips to Prune and Grow Your Sales – Nancy Bleeke @salesproinsider

The Universal Laws of Revenue Growth – Nancy Nardin @sellingtools

Customer Centric Strategies to Escape the Commodity Trap – Lisa Nirell @lisa_nirell

Sales Process

Don’t Forget this Key Sales Strategy – Jill Konrath @jillkonrath

Bigger is Better! – Janice Mars @janicemars

The Buyer Way or the Highway – Lisa D. Dennis, @knowledgence

Rapport Requires Creative Follow-Up – Carolyn Coradeschi @ ccoradeschi

8 Reasons You May Be Struggling in Sales – Jennifer Leake CMC @ConsultantsGold

Deal Initiation/Prospecting

Closing More Deals is Easy When You Say Hello the Right Way – Alice Kemper @bestsalestips

6 Ways to Ramp Up Your Sales Now – Alice Heiman @ aliceheiman

Closing

Have You Heard the Secret? – Lisa D. Magnuson @lisa_magnuson

Attitude/Goals/Positive Thinking

Speaking of Success! – Kelly McCormick @KellyMcCormick_

Get Over It! Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength – Karin Bellantoni @BlueprintSMS

Taking Sales Rejections from Obstacles to Assets – Andrea Waltz @Goforno

Introverts and Selling – Colleen Francis @cfrancisvoice

Think Differently. Position Differently. Sell Differently. – Bernadette McClelland @b_mcclelland

Tips, Tricks and Techniques

140 Character Sales Productivity Tips – Trish Bertuzzi @bridgegroupinc

The Incredible Power of Connection Using Three Lists to Grow – Lori Richardson @scoremoresales

Picture-Bites: Sound Bites on Steroids That Close Business – Anne Miller, @annmillerny

3 Rules of Improv Every Seller Needs to Know – Julie Hansen @acting4sales

Get your copy now!

Enjoy the sales and rewards you deserve.

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20 Questions to Help Sales Managers Increase Sales

  
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A sales manager’s biggest obstacle to moving their sales team forward is remaining at status quo.  If you do nothing, then there will be no transition or change and that’s probably is the kiss of death. The good competitors in your space are coming after you.  They think about you constantly and they are finding ways to take the business from you.Sales Manager Coaching

So what can you do quickly to ward off the competition and get better sales results?

It can be as simple as coaching your sales people. 

Forget all the excuses:  “I don’t have time, They don’t want me to ride with them, They’re all over the country, They’re experienced sales people – they don’t need me to coach, I don’t want to take time away from selling and many more.”

If you are exceeding sales quotas by not coaching, good for you and all of the other sales managers out there would like to learn your secret sauce. 

Because if you don’t coach, you can expect the same, and we know wanting change, yet doing the same thing will only get you the same results.

Coaching is one of the best ways to make transitions that result in positive outcomes. Since you may not be coaching or coaching often enough, you may be hesitant or wondering how to start the conversation for it to be productive and not turn into a defensive or punitive experience.

Planning the coaching session is very much like modeling your preparation for a sales conversation.  Determine the objective of the conversation and prepare several opening questions.

These 20 Thought Starter Coaching Questions help launch an effective and efficient coaching conversation:

  1. What’s your vision of the ideal…? What can you do in the next 30 days to move in that direction?
  2. What is one thing you could start, stop, or continue doing in the next 24 hours that will get you closer to your goal?
  3. What would have you jump out of bed in the morning excited about the day ahead of you?
  4. What would you like to be most proud of a year from now?
  5. What would be your one breakthrough goal that you can conceive of but do NOT believe you can achieve?
  6. What is getting in the way of making you successful?
  7. What are your aspirations for yourself in our organization?
  8. Talk to me about your pipeline/what opportunities should you be pursuing?
  9. What are the biggest obstacles to advancing sales and closing more deals?
  10. What do you think you do best to meet your goals?  What areas if improved would help you meet goals easier and or sooner?
  11. Who is your toughest competitor – and what are they doing right?
  12. What are the top reasons a lead doesn’t close?
  13. What are you trying to achieve/ what would it mean to if you could achieve this?
  14. What are your short-term and daily activity goals?
  15. What stands in the way of achieving your goals?
  16. What are the top three things that you’ll need to make your number this quarter/year?
  17. In your typical week, what takes you away from sales opportunities?
  18. What else do you spend time on, how is your time divided?
  19. How can I, as your manager help you put a plan together to better utilize the resources available?
  20. What are you willing to commit to doing/trying/changing and by when?

Let us know how your coaching session goes and please – add any of your great questions to this list.

 

 

 

 

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6 Tips to Sell More Today

  
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1. Write your sales strategy plan.  Know what you have in secure customer repeat business, the current business that is subject to elimination and the balance tells you how much you need to aquire and meet your goal.  Only it doesn’t stop there.  Determine many new clients and the number of weekly or daily prospects you need in the pipeline   List the specific actions to take each day, week or month.  Now execute it! sales ideas

2. Teach yourself.  If you think you know it all, that’s when you are most vulnerable to lose your edge because you’ll start taking short cuts.  Read articles, blogs and/or books on selling tips and techniques.  Every sales book or article has at least one winning idea to advance more sales or close more deals. When you come across that good tip, use it.

3. Find a partner or stakeholder.  It feels like you’re on an island by yourself, yet there’s no good reason to do this alone.  Partner up with a fellow seller, your boss or someone you know and respect their sales ability.  Meet with them weekly (phone is fine) for 30 minutes.  15 minutes on them and 15 on you.  The clarity and suggestions this 30 minutes provides is worth thousands in commissions.

4. Keep the invisible, visible.  Display your Top 10 Target Opportunities.  Keeping the list in a drawer, folder or file on your computer isn’t enough.  Targets need to be visible to hit the bulls-eye. Place the list in multiple places to look at them often.  Plan each morning to take action to advance each of these accounts.  Check in at the end of the day and answer truthfully to yourself what action you took.

5. Plan before each sales conversation.  Winging it doesn’t work.  Ask yourself: what is the objective of this conversation, how does this contact like to be communicated to, what questions do I need to ask to meet the objective of the call, what barriers might keep them from buying and what are the best clarifying questions to ask to remove any barriers?  Take the time to plan and the customer will buy. 

6. This one is up to you.  What worked so well before that you stopped doing it?  What is currently working well for you that you want to keep doing it and improve upon it?   What does your sales manager harp on you to do that you’ve been dragging your feet?  What do you see other top performers do that you wish you were doing? Start doing it now and watch your sales soar.

 

 

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Sales Conversations that Actually Sell

  
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A dear friend of mine and a sales expert extraordinaire, Nancy Bleeke’s newest book  Conversations That Sell: Collaborate with Buyers and Make Every Conversation Count was published in April 2013 by AMACOM. AMACOM authors are experts in their fields, unrivaled in their knowledge, experience, and reputation. They are world-class educators, successful executives, business owners, trainers, consultants, and journalists—all eager to share their insights and techniques with a broad audience.

You won’t be disappointed while reading this book.  In fact, veteran or newbie to sales you’ll find a unique perspective along with many tips and tools to add to what you are already doing great – to be even better. Conversations That Sell

Today’s buyers are time deprived, internet researched savvy, and inundated with sales people and choices no matter what they are buying.  Which means today’s sales people must take advantage of every conversation, making each one count, matter and lead to advancing the sale.

Here are 3 of the many game-changing tools from Conversations That Sell:

1. Forget about you.  As wonderful as you and your product are in each conversation the buyer is the star of the show.  Follow the Conversations that Sell focus of What’s In It For Them and you’ll succeed.  Nancy’s WIIFT is a philosophy and a sales process.  When you keep the philosophy of What’s in it for Them at the forefront it’s easy to plan the conversation, email, slide deck and solution.  When the WIIFT acronym is followed as the sales process – Wait, Initiate, Interview, Facilitate and Then Consolidate, you have the most effective sales conversation to close more deals. 

Recently a sales professional shared this success with me:  After learning about WIIFT, we came back and looked at our slide decks.  We realized they were all about us for 85 slides.  Yikes, no wonder people looked at us bored and weren’t excited to buy when we finished.  We revamped our slide decks, it’s now all about them and we’re closing more deals in fewer customer visits. 

2. Quick Prep.  Are you like most sales professionals running from one meeting to the next whether they are on the phone or in person? I’ve asked sales professionals about their preparation and the majority say they prepare.  Then when asked to explain their prep process they recognize it’s often minimal and could be improved.  And then the “I really don’t have time.” comments begin.  Sound familiar?   The pressure to make more sales, deals and fill the pipeline has sellers racing from one activity to the next with heads spinning and minds wandering.  The Quick Prep Tool introduced in Conversations That Sell is so simple and common sense.  It can be completed in 5 minutes and when incorporated in the Wait Step (the first step of WIIFT), it truly makes or breaks all deals.

Preparation is really a transfer of time.  The 5 – 30 minutes spent preparing up front closes more deals in fewer customer visits and once again… makes every conversation count!

Here are a few quick prep ideas other sellers following the WIIFT sales system have shared to make a difference:

• Stop 10 minutes prior to the meeting whether it’s on the phone or in person.  Review the completed Quick Prep Tool (or use those 10 minutes right then).  This clears your thoughts of everything else on your mind and allows you to turn your focus on them – WIIfT.

• As Nifular shared with me one day, “I have a new appreciation for my car.  It’s now my office.  As I leave one customer and begin my drive to the next, I turn off the radio and I mentally review the upcoming conversation, practice what I’m going to say and check to be certain I’m using all of the steps of WIIFT. (By the way, there are Quick Prep Tools on The Conversations that Sell website.)

3. Better Questions.  Old or new to sales you know the importance of the needs analysis.  How can your needs analysis be better and/or different from your competitors?  How do you impact  the conversation during the needs analysis for the buyer to be thinking this guy is good and I’d like to buy from them?  Conversations That Sell’s 4 Point Investigation Model™ takes the buyers from where they are Today to where they want and need to be Tomorrow.  People already have today. They are really buying Tomorrow.  Once Tomorrow is clear, the other two points discuss barriers, downsides or the Risk that keeps from moving forward and capitalizes on the Reward by doing so.  The customer is emotionally and logically engaged.  And although we think people buy logically, they include more emotion than we often want to omit.  Think about your questions.  Most sellers load up on the Today Questions, have minimal Tomorrow and overlook the Risk and Reward questions.

I could go on and on with all of the game-changing content to up your sales conversations and close more deals.  It’s best if you get the book (paperback and kindle) or visit the Conversations that Sell website for loads of free tools.

Visit our Virtual Conversations that Sell Workshop webpage to learn more about our upcoming Virtual workshop to experience everything first hand and impact your sales performance tomorrow!

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A Sales Manager’s Look in the Mirror

  
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It doesn’t matter is you’re one quarter, five or eights months or down to the last four weeks of the year, it’s always the right time for sales managers to assess themselves on their leadership of their sales team.  Sales managers spend more time looking at their sales team and their performance and often overlook their role for the success of their people.Sales Manager Look in the Mirror

Top performing sales managers look at their past performance, what did and didn’t work, why, and what can they do different or better.

If you want to see a positive shift in performance ask yourself these questions today, next month and every month thereafter:

1. How much time I have been spending on one-on-one coaching?

2. Who on my sales team would benefit the most with a series of field ride coaching days?

3. Who on my sales team are the top performers and what I have been doing to reward them?  Or have I been neglecting them and there’s a chance they do not feel valued?

4. What barriers has my staff expressed that they think are keeping them from making more sales?  What can I do to remove those barriers?

5. How relevant, engaging and skill building are the weekly sales meetings?  What can I do to maximize on this low cost, now cost training and motivating opportunity?

6. How can I improve the feedback I provide?

7. How can I continue to make the invisible visible (expectations, goals, making people feel important)?

8.  How can I increase the amount of time my team spends interfacing with the customer?

9. What major time waster can I help minimize or eliminate to free up selling time?

10. What is one Purple Cow (Seth Godin) from ordinary to extraordinary that you can implement to increase sales productivity? 

 

 

 

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Sell Like The Top Performers Who Use Linkedin

  
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Curious to know the Top Performers Secrets to Linkedin?

Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee surveyed 3,094 sellers to find out how they were using LinkedIn to create new business opportunities. These sellers weren’t just salespeople. They also included entrepreneurs, sales managers, consultants and services providers who had revenue-generating responsibilities.

Jill and Ardath wanted to know more about the top sellers – those who generated ‘lots’ of opportunities by using linkedin, who cracked the code about how to leverage Linkedin as a sales tool and who everyone else should be learning from.

Jill Konrath  A few key findings:

  • Prospect research is the most frequent Linkedin activity.   61.4% of those who do so, say they’re successful at initiating offline conversations with prospects.
  • Top sellers use more of LinkedIn’s capabilities, plus they use them more often.
  • Top sellers work Linkedin as if it was their personal database setting up a search based on particular criteria, thus providing a steady stream of new prospects.  
  • Top sellers leverage their connections at nearly double the rate of everyone else.

Get your free ebook Cracking the Linkedin Sales Code, read the research and tips and begin using the Top Performer Secrets to make this year your best sales year ever!

 

Get your free ebook Cracking the Linkedin Sales Code, read the research and tips and begin using the Top Performer Secrets to make this year your best sales year ever!

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You Can Sell In December

  
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Every year in November and December sales professionals toss around the notion that this is a terrible time of the year to sell.  I hear comments like:

  • No one wants to talk business
  • People are on vacation 
  • It’s hard to get all the decision makers together
  • You can’t get anyone to set up an appointment

Let’s agree that the rhythm is off for some people, yet business does go on and there are plenty of sales professionals worldwide making sales and appointments at this time of year.  Questions

If you are one of those naysayers, step back and agree to take on a different perspective.  This is the time to connect with your current client base and continue to build rapport.  Go beyond the “Happy Holiday” or “What are you doing for the holidays?” conversation with some thought provoking strategic business partner questions.

In last week’s sales meeting, Better Questions to Ask in December and Early January, a team of sales professionals selected these as their best questions:

Starter Question Options

  • What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year?
  • What are you most important objectives for the upcoming year?
  • You’re coming to the end of the year, how well did you do in achieving this year’s plan?  
  • Where do you see your biggest opportunities next year?
  • How do you expect the year to go from a financial perspective compared to this year?
  • What are you most proud of having accomplished this year?
  • If you were able to have a ‘do-over’ on something from this year, what would that be?

Follow-Up Question Options

  • Of these opportunities, which is your priority to implement?
  • What will that do for your business short term and/or long term?
  • How important is it for you to capture those opportunities?
  • What challenges do you expect as you move forward on those opportunities?
  • What challenges do you foresee to prevent or slow you down from capturing those opportunities?
  • What steps are you planning to take to capture on those opportunities?
  • What will you need to put in place to make that happen?
  • What is your plan of action to capture those opportunities?
  • How will you address the challenges and opportunities?
  • What is your timeframe for completion?
  • When will you begin?

The objective of this conversation is to learn if there’s anything you offer as a part of their solution, if they are interested in talking about this further with you, and if so to set an appointment for next year.

Good luck making your end of the year conversations make a difference and matter.  You can sell in December!

 

 

 

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Help Non-Performers Grow or Watch Them Go

  
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Tony is the new sales manager (2 months) at a company in the UK.  Five months ago the company hired a fourth sales representative.  This sales representative has not met the monthly quota and Tony’s boss has asked him to consider giving the new guy one more month and if he doesn’t meet quota to let him go. Sales Onboarding

This isn’t unusual. Unfortunately it happens too often.  A consultant to the medical device industry recently related a similar story, the company she’s been brought in to do field sales rides is churning reps by the minute.  They hire fast and cut the cord within 3 months if they aren’t performing.

It takes a lot of time and expense to hire sales people.  Why go through that expense every 90 days?  Not only is it expensive in manpower and other hiring expenses as advertising, recruiters, assessments, background checks, it’s costing the company much more than that in reputation. 

Companies need to stop and look at their professional onboarding process.  The skin or swim routine needs to stop.  Someone believed in the person that was hired or why would they have hired them.  Then provide the new hire with the tools to be successful in the company – no matter what their experience level.  These tools aren’t the CRM, laptop, ipad or desk.  The tools are these five actions a company can do to improve success, reduce turnover and eliminate a bad reputation.

1. Set expectations.  There shouldn’t be any surprises as to what’s expected and by when.  Besides learning where the bathroom is, learn what the sales quota is, current accounts, average dollar per account, accounts conceivably in jeopardy, number of new accounts required to meet quota, sales close ratio, lead generation options, etc.  Set the plan, actions, resources and deadlines.

2. Daily, then weekly, coaching and feedback sessions. Review the plan for the day or week and the results to achieving the plan.  What went well, what didn’t, what challenges occurred?  What support is needed to ramp up?

3. Sales training and product training.  Sales training is different than product training.  More companies have product training than sales training.  Both are essential.  Companies who invest in product training end up with sales people who go out and dump product information on their prospects.  When product training and sales training are combined, sellers are collaborating with the prospect, filling needs and finding opportunities.  That’s a completely different sales conversation and that’s the one buyer’s prefer.

4. Joint sales calls.  It’s impossible to know what a sales representative is really doing on a sales call unless they are observed.  What they say they did is often different than what really happened.  Plus the sales manager doesn’t have the luxury of seeing or hearing tone, inflection, and whether there is any rapport or synergy between the two. A good coach needs to see the sales representative in action.

5. Goal setting.  Successful sales people, who set goals, achieve their goals faster.  During the first week of onboarding, ask each new hire to establish personal goals as well as business goals.  Set the actions needed to achieve the goals, how they’ll be tracked and also measured.  Review these goals throughout the first few months and adjust accordingly.

Tony asked his boss to give him another three months with the new sales representative before taking any firing actions.  Tony is in the process of implementing these 5 actions and the new sales representative made his quota the next month. 

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Energize Your Sales Team

  
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It is all in motivation. People do not do their best when they are not motivated. How often do you think – if only I could get my sales team more motivated? Chances are you’re overcomplicating things. Now, you do not want to be like Michael Scott from The Office, but you may need to liven things up on the sales floor. Here are 4 tips to help energize your sales team:

1. Give Praise – Too often managers do not praise their sales team for a job well done. Making a sale or meeting a quota is an expectation. Even exceeding a goal is not acknowledgedgroupofpeople resized 600. People naturally want to be recognized for their hard work. If your sales team feels valued, it will be more energized and more productive. See? It is not so hard.

2. Listen and Observe – Joint sales calls may seem demeaning. Sure, your sales team may find it a bit obtrusive at first. However, once you are able to offer valuable insights into their sales approach, they will be thanking you. Listening and observing on a sales call allows you to evaluate your current approach and adjust so that your sales team can be performing at their best.

3. Better Meetings – Everyone hates meetings. Now, there is no need to recreate an episode of The Office and have everyone tearing their hair out at your antics. Instead, you can empower your meetings by turning them into mini training meetings. Short skill builders are practical and useful – something that most meetings are not. Spend 30 minutes per meeting on preparation, sales strategy, problem solving or personal development and you will see your sales team glide into the meeting room with a spring in their step and leave energized and ready to make sales.

4. Coach – What is a team without a coach? According to a recent Sales Benchmark Index survey, thousands of top performers say they seek out companies with an active coaching plan in place. As the sales manager, take on the role of a coach. As coach, you’ll be helping your sales team reach their full potential. Sales professionals are hungry to adapt, improvise and improve to exceed their goals of increased sales, shorter sales cycles and loyal customers.

As you can see, it is not hard to energize a sales team if you take the right approach. It all comes down to understanding the needs and key motivators for your sales team. A good leader can not only see the potential in her team, but also understands how to bring it out. 

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5 Common Mistakes Managers Make When Sales Are Down- 3 Tips to Change

  
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The pressure is on… making quotas and profits, retaining sellers, keeping the pipeline filled.  Sales managers can find themselves reacting rather than being proactive.  Here are 5 common mistakes managers make when sales are down.  (Keep reading for the Tips to avoid these common mistakes).

Sales Team1. Pressure Sellers.  It’s bad enough that the sellers are down and out themselves.  Many have been hearing more no’s than ever before.  They’ll tell you they are working harder for the same dollars or less.  It’s not that they aren’t trying or doing their best.  There is a shift in buying today.  It’s not a luxury, it’s a must.  Adding pressure by saying, “You’ve got to sell more.  Get more in the pipeline.  Why didn’t they buy.” Isn’t helping. 

2. Stop Training.  Managers believe the minutes spent in training are better spend by sellers being on the street.  The extra 30 – 60 minutes on the street aren’t going to make a difference.  In fact, it will most likely backfire.  Sellers need the interaction with their peers more now than when everything is going well.  They need to hear of even the small wins and be able to collaborate on today’s challenges.  Take that away from them and they are out there alone, repeating the same skills… and we know the saying, Insanity is keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

3. Change Compensation Plans.  Have you ever known a compensation plan change when things are tough in the favor of the seller?  Most often, the company sees this as a way to cut expenses.  At what cost?  Plenty.  You’ve just lost the momentum and drive of most of your sellers.  They are still expected to sell the same, if not more to earn the same amount of money.  That’s generally good for at least 6 months of lost productivity.

4. Reduce Field Rides.  Even if managers were conducting joint field rides before, they tend to do less when the going gets tough.  I hope some of you reading this disagree.  I commend you.  I’m always amazed that field rides are not standard practice with many of our client organizations.  The job title is sales manager. That means manage sales and sales are brought in through your sellers.  Watch your sellers in action – over and over again and coach them as you go.  Can you imagine a pitching coach never watching the pitcher practice and only give tips in the office?  Of course not, yet that’s what managers do day in and day out.

5. Status Quo is Your Biggest Competition.  Look at what how your marketing and how the sellers are selling.  Has anything changed?  Maybe not.  What message does that send to your current customers and long time prospects?  Chances are your competition is doing something different.  The buying experience is important.  Feeling new, refreshing, leading edge makes a difference, especially when customers can get a very similiar product from several vendors.

Now, 3 Tips to Make a Difference

Tip 1:  Increase communications.  Speak with with your sellers often and in a variety of ways – face-to-face, telephone, emails.  And listen to what they are saying.  Drop the ‘what did you sell for me today’ language and turn it to ‘what can I do for you?  What barriers are preventing you from selling more, improving your close ratio, gaining referrals?  How can you remove the barriers?  How can I support you?’  Do not take on the ‘monkey’ to do it for them.  Teach a man to fish and…(get the fish quote).

Tip 2:  Recognize there is a target on your back.  Your competitors are all over you and if not now, they will be.  Use marketing idea. That Tide does so well.  They have New and Improved Tide®.  What’s different, this time it may have little blue specs in it that make clothes cleaner.  Next time they may add green ones that make clothes smell better.  It’s still Tide®.  Do something for your products and services look and smell like the new and improved Tide®! 

Tip 3: Train, train and train again. Your sellers need to be able to out-think, out-perform and out-sell the competition.  Weekly training, if not daily.  There are business today selling 20% more in this market.  They increased their training efforts.  Michael Jordan’s story is a model to follow.  Here is one of the greatest players of all time and what does he do?  He goes to practice early, he practices for several hours a day.  You would think he was great enough that he didn’t need to practice that much.  Wrong.  That’s how he got to the level his achieved… practice makes perfect or perfect practice makes perfect.  Do your sellers a favor – practice!

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Buy Your Sales Force or Build It?

  
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When it comes to recruiting for open sales positions many companies prefer to buy instead of build.  They invest their recruiting time seeking top performers within their business category thinking they’ll have quick time-to-performance. Companies think these sales professionals can bring customers from their current client and prospect list and get quick sales.Track Record

There are some downsides to this method of hiring to consider.

1. Why is a top performer leaving their current company?  As the saying goes you really don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  Are they truly the top performer you think they are?  What does your company offer besides a new location than the current company? Money? Sure, money is great, but it isn’t the sole motivator for a driven sales professional.

2. The relationship is important in sales.  Today’s buyers do not necessarily switch their current provider because of the sales person. While this was prevalent years ago, it just does not happen as often anymore.  The economy and buying process is different today and there has to be a greater compelling reason to switch – with all of the internal changes that often come with a switch than the seller. 

Plus, they might be thinking to themselves, “This sales man touted ABC’s product and expected me to buy, now they are at XYZ touting their product. Are they being truthful and will they still be there when I do buy and need them?”

3. Do the core competencies of a top performer at your company match?  There are companies whose top performers are mavericks – close a deal any way at any cost.  If your go to market strategy includes a long-term relationship and high customer satisfaction – those two top performer competencies may not match.

Look at your top performers or other top performers that you respect and value.  List what they do that other sellers do not do and what they are doing that identifies them as top performers.  You may be surprised to find the characteristics on your list with emotional intelligence competencies outweigh skill competencies.  The EI competencies may be creative, goes the extra mile, high energy, does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, goal setter, ability to work independently, self-motivated.

As you seek to buy or build top performers don’t overlook your on-boarding process.

Tips Whether You Buy or Build Your Sales Force:

1. Hire people with your required EI competencies.  Success is not only about skills.  You can develop achievement drive, you can’t make them have achievement drive. Seek out talent with the skills non-skill qualities that you want and need.

2. On-boarding training.  Even with a proven track record, top performers invest in their business and personal development. They’re often known to ask at interviews, what skill and personal development opportunities are provided.  Include relevant training to include expectations, goal planning, selling skills, product knowledge and internal procedures.  The new hire will be more productive and you’ll avoid any surprises 90 days later.

3. On-going training and coaching.  Keep your on-going training and coaching relevant.  Sports professionals take part in on-going training and coaching.  Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal  and Lebron James, and all showed up at practice.   Why wouldn’t you provide the same to your sales team – no matter how good of a producer they are. 

Whether you ‘buy’ your team by selecting top performers from other companies or hire talent with less sales experience and ‘build’ your team, it’s what you do once they are on the team that truly makes the difference.

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Better Coaching Drives Sales and Satisfaction

  
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Consider These Facts

56% of salespeople say they are not being coached the right way.

57% of salespeople say they want more coaching from their sales managers.

Only 32% of sales managers are considered to be outstanding coaches by their salespeople.

A survey of 278 business executives found that the number one characteristic of effective sales managers is coaching skills.

60% of salespeople say they want better coaching from their sales managers.

 

Coach for SalesThe Value of Coaching

Everyone knows the value of coaching.  Only it doesn’t get done as often as it should and when it does it’s not often done well.  If only 32% of sales managers are considered to be outstanding coaches by their sales people, there is a lot of room for improvement.  That improvement would naturally yield increased sales.

The next time you go to coach consider this:

•  Coaching is collaborative with a blending of asking and suggesting. 

•  Coaching is broadening the discussion beyond activity and accounts.

•  Coaching includes praise, questions, action plans, agreement on next steps.

A good coach plans the coaching session.  A great seller wouldn’t go on a sales call without preparing and crafting their questions in advance.  A great coach does the same.

A Linkedin discussion asked, “What is your best coaching question?”  There were over 227 responses in a 10-month period.  Here are some of the best coaching questions for you to be a GREAT coach.

Questions to Launch the Coaching Conversation

  • What do you expect from me as your coach? Tell me how I can help you?
  • If you’d be guaranteed to get one wish that will give the biggest positive impact for yourself AND the company right now and in the long term, what would that be?
  • What drives you, motivates you, inspires you?
  • What’s your vision of the ideal…? What can you do in the next 30 days to move in that direction?
  • What is one thing you could start, stop, or continue doing in the next 24 hours that will get you closer to your goal?
  • What would have you jump out of bed in the morning excited about the day ahead of you?
  • What would you like to be most proud of a year from now?

Questions to Gain More Insight and Direction

  • What is the PAIN for you of NOT achieving your goal?
  • If failure were not an option, what would you do?
  • What can you learn from this situation?
  • What does the leading lady/man inside you have to say about the subject?
  • What’s right about whatever obstacle or conflict the client maybe facing?
  • What specifically are you afraid will happen if you take that step?
  • What are the possibilities?
  • What are you willing to keep and what are you ready to let go of?
  • What would be your one breakthrough goal that you can conceive of but do NOT believe you can achieve?
  • What is getting in the way of making you successful?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if you do ‘X?

Questions When The Coachee Says, “I don’t know.”

  • What would someone who does know how to do this do?
  • If you did know what would you say? 
  • What would you say, if you did know?
  • What do you feel inclined to think/say/do?

   What questions would you add to this great list?

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How Affirmations Can Increase Your Sales Potential

  
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I’m a believer in affirmations.  When I practice saying my affirmations – greater things come my way.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with affirmations – they are statements that you repeat to yourself.  By repeating the affirmations, your subconscious mind acts on them and creates situations that mirror the affirmations.

affirmations

For example, one of my personal favorite affirmation is:  My income is constantly increasing.  On the days and weeks that I actively repeat this over and over and read the index cards with this message that I have posted in my office, on my bathroom vanity and on my computer screen, money comes my way.  It may be a check from the insurance company with a rebate that I had no idea was coming, a new client, or an offer to pay for something I was thinking of buying.  It shows up in a myriad of ways… and I don’t discount the penny, dime or quarter found on the ground at 3 different places in one day!

A few tips on Affirmations. 

• Keep them short and simple.

• Write as if in the now – as if they are already happening.

• Reflect the specific results you want.

Julia Rogers Hamrick, author of Choosing Easy World shared these affirmations:

• I choose to live in Easy World where everything is easy.

• I attract inspiring, empowering, supportive business partners in Easy World.

• Everything I need for a successful business is available to me in Easy World.

• Because I choose to work in Easy World, all my work is joyful!

• I breathe, relax and allow Easy World to effortlessly organize all the perfect circumstances, events and people for brilliant success.

Here are a few of my favorite business and personal affirmations are:

• My income is constantly increasing.

• I easily and effortlessly attract an unlimited amount of new clients who are buying sales and leadership training from me now.

• Everyday I engage with decision makers who are buying from me now.

• As I transform, my life transforms.

• Great things are coming my way today.

• My life is abundant and overflowing with love.

• I feel great weighing 115 pounds with a flat stomach.

• All of the cells and bones in my body are strong and healthy every day.

What affirmations do you use to increase your sales?

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Who You Gonna Call for Sales Training Resources?

  
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An earlier post mentioned my incredible experience with the top international 25 Sales Training Experts. For two days we collaborated on best practices and how we can touch more people and change more lives. Some words the women used to describe their brain power experience were:  awesome, inspiring, energized, enlightened, refreshed, renewed, overwhelming, brain trust, and award winning.

Top 25 Sales Training Experts

Allow me to introduce you to these talented women as they offer a wealth of information, resources and free content.

Trish Bertuzzi: www.bridgegroupinc.com

Karin Bellantoni: www.blueprintsms.com

Nancy Bleeke: www.salesproinsider.com

Carolyn Coradeschi: www.RainmakerMindset.com

Melina Emerson: www.suceedasyourownboss.com

Lisa Erickson: www.advantageperformance.com

Barbara Giamaco: www.scs-connect.com

Julie Hanson: www.actingforsales.com

Lynn Hidy: www.upyourtelesales.com

Alice Kemper: www.salestrainingconsultants.com and www.sharpenz.com

Jill Konrath: www.jillkonrath.com

Lisa Leitch: www.teneoresults.com

Lisa Magnuson: www.toplinesales.com

Janice Mars: www.saleslatitude.com

Bernadette McClelland: www.bernadettemcclelland.com

Krista Moon: www.strategicthinkingonline.com

Laurie Page: www.bridgegroupinc.com

Suzanne Paling: www.salesmanagementservices.com

Amy Palmer: www.fearbustinsales.com

Laura Posey: www.dancing-elephants.com

Lori Richardson: www.scoremoresales.com

Barbara Smith:  www.smithweaversmith.com

Colleen Stanley: www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com

Babette Ten Haken: www.salesaerobicsforengineers.com

Hazel Walker: www.hazelmwalker.com

 

 

 

 

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The Secret to Keeping and Attracting Top Sales Performers

  
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Finding and retaining sales talent is on Sales managers and VP of Sales radar screen at all times.  Carole Bowen at WKIS in Miami interviews new talent even when she doesn’t have an open territory.  She knows the downsides and loss of revenues to lose a top performer and the costly mistake of a mis-hire.  Top Performance

By looking at the findings of Sales Benchmark Index’s research of over thousands of sales people and the commonly asked questions and concerns that these top performers have shared if they are considering changing jobs, we can identify what really makes them tick to build top performing teams and reduce turn over.

Here is the list of the most commonly asked questions and concerns that top performers have shared:

  • What opportunity (accounts, industry or geography) does the new territory hold?
  • Does my new manager have the skills to coach me and hone my skills?
  • Will I have a chance to advance my career?  Is this opportunity limited to just Sales?
  • Does the new role offer unique challenges beyond just winning deals?
  • What kind of training and professional development will I receive?
  • What is the culture like? Is this a winning team? Are the sales people respected?
  • Will I earn recognition for outstanding work? How do I qualify for President’s Club trips?
  • Am I joining an elite team; the best of the best?
  • Will senior leadership listen to my ideas?
  • What kinds of tools will I use? Will the infrastructure shackle me or help me win deals?
  • Does my team include top notch presales, inside sales, telesales, and marketing resources?
  • Does the brand and reputation open doors? Are the products respected?
  • Who are the customers? Do they give positive references? Are they irritated or delighted?
  • How will I quickly ramp up during my onboarding period? Is there an adjusted quota or a guarantee?

What stands out is:

  • Top Performers aren’t lone wolves. They don’t want to be the only top performer; they want to be with a team of top performers.  It’s like being in the Olympics; they want to compete with the best of the best.
  • Top Performers want training.  That goes against the myth that sales people don’t want or feel they need more sales training.  They want, need and like training when it’s relevant to them, their future earnings and career development.
  • Top Performers want a voice. They want their experience in the field heard, respected and used to move the company forward.  They often do know more than the sales manager as to what the clients really want and need since they communicate with them day in and day out.  Their intuition and gut feeling can help carve the future.

3 Easy to Implement Game Changers:

1. Coach. Connect in any way you can – in person, on skype, the telephone – just not via email. Make this personal and all about them. This is the time for them to talk and you to lead and facilitate the conversation.  Truly listen, let them be heard and let them know you have their back.

2. Brainstorm. Plan a lunch with the senior leaders and your top performers where the leadership team speaks about vision and the top performers share their intimate knowledge of your clients. Or plan a brainstorming “What If..” session with the top performers and take action on some of the ideas.

3. Train. Ask the Top Performers for ideas on the knowledge and information that’s important for them to do their job even better.  Set up internal mastermind groups or find some interesting webinars to attend together.

What are you currently doing to provide the environment and resources to retain and attract top talent?  Begin building the sales department and organization where every top performer dreams of working.  If you aren’t  doing anything different, the competition may begin to look more appealing.

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Is The Lower Sales Price Really the Better Buy?

  
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I only have 2 states left to see – Vermont and New Hamsphire – and then I’m off to explore the rest of the world.  This weekend I was in Newport Rhode Island – another paradise (I live in Florida the ‘other’ paradise) which helped me reduce my goal by 1. Newport RI

While we were out and about my friends realized they needed gas.  We stopped at the first gas station and they only put in $5 of gas, when we were clearly on an empty tank.  They aren’t  cheap people, they were doing their equivalent of the Amazing Race.  Finding the lowest gas prices even though it may mean multiple stops and extra aggravation.

In the long run they were going to save 5 cents a gallon.  On a 13 gallon tank that’s 65 cents. If you filled the tank every week that would be a $33.80 savings.  Yes, better in your pocket than there’s.  But really, what are the downsides?

1. Buying on bottom line price only.  I question the loyalty.  Do I want to do business with someone who may be fickle?  This tells me if your competitor approached your client saying they’ll beat your price – even by a penny, they may jump ship and take it.  I’d prefer to know it would take a lot for my clients to seek an alternative sales or leadership solution.

2. Productivity waster.  It may have only taken 5 minutes at the first gas station and another 10 at the next one, but really.  The extra ‘on the mind’ energy about knowing you’d need to stop for gas again may not be worth it. Is the client that wants you to discount continually sending you back to the office to sharpen that pencil and re-do the proposal?  Could you be investing that time on prospecting or servicing a more loyal customer? And are you already wondering and questioning what’s it going to be like servicing them?

3. Refferals. I may be worried about this client referring me.  I can hear the conversation now, “Call these folks and you can get really low prices from them.”  Now that’s a scary thought.  Who wants to be selected on price alone.  Value outweighs any low cost.

So the next time you think you’ve encountered a prospect that may be chasing around the gas pumps for the lowest price, beware. 

  • Ask good questions to determine their perception of value and long term relationships. 
  • Focus on value, rather than cost. 
  • Learn about previous buying relationships.

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The Power of Sales Collaboration

  
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Imagine 25 of the world’s top women sales training experts in one room for 2 days, sharing their go-to-market success strategies (and even failures).  SalesShebang

It’s rare that 25 people who share the same space in the market are so willing to come together and tell all.  The beauty of these top women sales training experts is they understand that power is impact (a phrase used by Jill Konrath that reasonated with all). This collaborative approach has impacted everyone personally and professionally.  Our businesses won’t be the same because of our new perspectives, ideas and ways of thinking.

My 3 big take aways are:

1. Be laser focused. If you don’t know the goal – or have a vague one- you’ll end up spinning too many plates in too many directions.  I looked at my goals and realized although they were good ones, they were too broad.  I had the sales quota goal to take the company to new heights, the number of preferred new clients and lots of activities that could get us there.  The lots of activities were getting in the way of meeting the goal efficiently and effectively and having fun in the meantime.  Although my team and I are great at providing training solutions to all size companies and all experience levels, could I grow to the next level faster if i got laser focused?  The lack of a good on-boarding process in sales departments has been my pet peeve for over 25 years.  I’ve written or helped implement onboarding programs over the years for Harte-Hanks, Knight Ridder Newspapers (now McClatchy), Times Shamrock, The Examiner, Continucare, Integra, and Efco. Top performers prefer companies with strong on-boarding programs which are beyond company orientation days. We’ve also been successful with our Virtual Live Training Workshops.  The light bulb went off – combine our sales training, coaching, assessments and virtual classroom to launch On-Boarding Sales Boot Camp in a virtual format.

2. Always be reinventing. Look at everything from every angle, upside down and inside out. I want to be like the new and improved Tide®.  Tide® keeps changing.  It’s really still Tide® only it has blue crystals in it or the box is different.  If it still looked like it did 25 years ago, Tide would have lost market share.  People want fresh, new, exciting.  In fact, this week Domino’s® annouced they are changing their logo and redesigning the interior of their stores.  They’re going to have open kitchens and lots of pizza tossing and slinging for everyone to see.  Eating at Dominio’s will become an experience.  I’ve already placed a call to our web-designer, time for a face-lift!

3. Find ‘people’. I can’t do it all, nor can my team.  We’re not good at everything.  When I get back to the office we’re going to make a list of all the activities we engage in on a daily basis.  Which ones are the best use of our time and productive actions to meet our business and personal goals.  The ones that are our time wasters or rather get in the way and take more time away from revenue producing activities, I’ll find the ‘people’ to do for us.

Whether you are in sales or sales leadership following my 3 take-aways could also impact your sales.

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Can I Really Shorten the Sales Cycle?

  
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The pipeline is filled, yet you aren’t closing as many sales as you’d like.  The prospects in the pipeline are agreeable to taking your calls, and accepting meetings only you’re still not advancing the sale to a close.  Your sales manager is questioning you and now you’re beginning to wonder yourself, will these ever close?  You may even be considering lowering your price to hopefully get the deal.  Please don’t do that, it’s the kiss of death.  So how can you shorten the sales cycle without losing sight of selling value or jeopardize speed over the buying process?Short Sales Cycle

You can shorten the sales cycle if you follow these tips:

Prepare.  No more winging it.  Don’t even think about picking up the phone to call or arrive for an on-site meeting without preparing.  No matter how seasoned you are.  If you aren’t preparing you aren’t selling to your full potential.   Prepare by answering these questions:

1. What is the objective of this meeting?

2. What do I know?  What do I need to know?  How am I going to ask for this information?  (Yes, prepare the questions in advance.)

3. What obstacles may arise in this meeting?  How will I respond?  Again- prepare how to respond before it even happens – or better yet, weave the solution to the obstacles into your questions and/or presentation.

4. When the meeting is over, what would success look like?  You have the vision now, prepare what you ask and say to make that happen.

5. How are you going to close the meeting with consensus – even if it’s to agree to disagree, plus everyone’s next steps?

Follow a sales process.  There is a method to the madness of sales.  It’s similar to deciding you want to drive to California from Maryland.  You could hop in the car and go (and that could be an adventurous experience) and take more days, additional gas and experience less beautiful scenery because you didn’t map it out.  The value of process is it’s predictable and repeatable.  Following a sales process is your roadmap to produce the outcome you desire efficiently and effectively.  You’ll be amazed how much time you gain for more prospecting when you follow a sales process that is collaborative and focused on them and not you.  Remember, you are not the star of this show.

But what about today and all of the prospects in the pipeline, what can you do to advance these sales and shorten the already too long buying process?

Slow down the selling process to speed up the buying process.  It’s time for you to regroup.  Slow down and don’t pick up the phone or arrive for a meeting until you have completed this Prospect Evaluation Checklist.  Then prepare.  You may have thought you were in the closing sequence, yet they aren’t buying.  You’ve missed something in one of the sales steps.  Go back, rethink and re-approach.  Complete each step, no skipping this time and watch the sales conversations produce more information and more deals.

Prospect Evaluation Checklist

1. What do I know? What do I still need to know?

2. What is their explicit need, want, challenge, desire?

3. What is their buying process?  Who is involved? What step in the process am I currently in?  Have I thoroughly completed all of the steps to here?  If not, go back.  If so, move forward.

4. What’s their role in the decision making process?  What can you do to get exposure to everyone in the decision making process?

5. Do they have the budget?  If not, can they get it?

6. Who have my meetings been all about – them or me?

7. Have I been approaching this collaboratively and as a strategic business partner or more like just another vendor?

8. What is the personality and preferred communication style of each person I’ve been presenting to?  Have I been communicating to them in their language?

9. Have we discussed the risks and rewards to moving forward or is that the elephant in the room?

10. If I had it to do over, what would I have done differently?  How can I use that information as I move forward?

Most recently, an international advertising agency and a kitchen cabinetry company have both reduced the sales cycle and closed more deals by following these tips.  They’re even experiencing 24-hour affirmative decisions in some instances where that’s never happened before. Their conversions are up, the number of visits to close the deal is down, the customers are happier – and everyone is the winner.  You too can shorten your sales cycle with powerful preparation and incorporating a sales process to join the ranks of top performers.

 

This isn’t the end – it’s only the beginning. If this article has struck a chord with you, first please tell someone else about it.  Tweet it out, email it to a friend, post it on Linkedin – they’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Selling Secrets From the Giraffes

  
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Guest Blog by Jill Konrath

We didn’t watch the sleeping rhinos for too long before we decided to move on. Little did we know what awaited us just around the bend.

J Konrath GiraffeNothing can prepare you for being right in the midst of herd of giraffes. As these tall, gangly, beautiful animals nibbled the leaves off the top of the trees, we snapped photo after photo.

But the giraffes weren’t alone. Over the course of our 3-day safari, we saw them with wildebeest, kudo, impala, tsessebe, zebra, springbok and more.

They stay together because, when you’re hunted daily by the big cats, jackals and hyenas, there’s security in numbers. Plus, each of the herd animals bring a special talent to the group. For example:

  • Being tall, giraffes are usually first to spot any hunters who approach. All the other animals keep their eyes on them.
  • With their widespread eyes, the wildebeest has a broad field of vision and can sense danger from the side.
  • Kudus leap straight up in the air when they see a predator. This shocks the hunter, but gives them – and the herd – a chance to escape.

And here’s something that you may not know. Predators don’t have eyes like ours. They can’t make out color. Instead, the predators only see outlines. When prowling for food, they’re looking for the shape of the impala and the shape of the giraffe. When they spot it, they attack.

That’s why giraffes have spots. They break up the shape. It’s the same reason other herd animals have stripes and lines and blobs. When the predators can’t see a shape, they can’t attack. And, it’s even harder when the animals are moving en masse.

So what can we learn about sales from the giraffes?

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Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers get more prospects in their pipeline, speed up sales cycles and land bigger contracts. She’s a frequent speaker at sales conferences. For more fresh sales strategies that work with crazy-busy prospects, visit www.jillkonrath.com.

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Sales Professionals Know Their Audience

  
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Country western band – LoCash Cowboysare the consummate sales professionals.

Wow, haven’t read that anywhere else have you?  I was invited on a cruise as a guest of Beasley Communications (Kiss Country 99.9 and Power 96).  The event brought together their loyal listeners for a 3-day party and concert bonanza with Lee Brice, LoCash Cowboys, Prince Royce and T Payne.  Although I have many stories to tell, and some I can blog about, others I can’t or at least won’t – one of my most memorable moments was watching LoCash Cowboys – not only perform – but observing their business acumen and sales professionalism.Alice Kemper

Friday night the lead country artist performed.  LoCash Cowboys came as flies on the wall.  They were very discreet.  Unbeknownst to anyone else they were doing their homework  – or in the sales profession world – their Preparation – Pre Call Planning.  They observed what worked and what didn’t work for the headliner artist Lee Brice.  (Lee is another artist I recommend buying his album Love Like Crazy.) A cruise venue is considerably different than a concert stage.  Lee had some challenges in this setting.  The lights were at full brightness, the tables and chairs were to the right and left of the quasi stage, there was a large bar area and it was the first party of the 3-day event.  People were abuzz, only initially Lee was background music rather than the feature.  Wise to the faces of his loyal fans, about 20 minutes into it he stopped and asked everyone to bring their chairs to the front.  Some did and although he is a great artist, his performance was competing with the ‘party’.

LoCash Cowboys performed the next day.  When the doors opened, the room had been transformed.  The lights were low, the chairs were arranged in concert format in front of the stage and everyone was truly at a foot stomping concert.  The KISS sales manager congratulated the KISS staff for setting the room, only to find out they didn’t do a thing.  Preston Brust and Chris Lucas (LoCash Cowboys) arrived early and did everything.  WOW.

They are up and coming artists and with that foresight – plus their singing and writing talent – have success written all over them.  They did what top sales performers do:

1. Prepare – checked out the room prior to their performance.

2. Determine the objective – theirs and the customer’s.

3. Identify benefits to the customer.

4. Give added value. –  offered and performed another concert at 10 p.m. on the outside deck of the ship.

Kudos to LoCash Cowboys… doing what great sales people do!  Best of luck and I’ll keep singing C-o-u-n-t-r-y….

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Sales Always Includes the Price

  
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Do 9 out of 10 of your customers question the price?

At some point of the sales process you are going to need to talk about price.  Do 9 out of 10 of your customers question the price?  Of course they do.  Today more than ever people are concerned about finances.  Over the last few years most of their vendors have reduced their price.  They’ve learned to ask for a lower price or question the price and watch many sellers come tumbling down with the price.    Your first instinct might also be to lower the price.  It doesn’t need to be.  If you do it once, your customer will expect it every time.

Sell Youself

First, sell yourself on your product, service and the value your solution offers.  If you are a sales manager, next… see that all of your sellers do the same.  Once you are convinced it will be easier to discuss price with confidence.

As you sell yourself on your product list the benefits the customer will receive.  The list of benefits will most likely outweigh the ‘cost’.  The key is in how you deliver the price.  Remember this:  There is no period after the cost.  If there was a period you would need to stop and it would be your customer’s turn to speak.  For example, “Yes, the investment is xyz dollars.”   Now you’re quiet, they’re thinking and they feel the need to speak.  Generally they don’t answer with, “Great.  Where do I sign.”

There’s no period after the cost.

Consider this… there’s no period after the cost – meaning you are not going to stop speaking completely after cost.  You will continue – not with run on sentences, with complete sentences, without stopping until you have stacked up the value to outweigh the cost.  Here’s an example for an advertising executive:  “Yes, the investment is only xyz dollars.  You’ll be reaching new, targeted customers online where you said your buyers are looking for their shopping news.  It also includes free copy and design and the ability to change your message daily, keeping fresh information to your potential customers.  Plus the email button besides your message gives your customer the chance to pass it along to others who they think will be interested too, gaining you more people for the same dollars.”

Selling PriceWhat’s in it for Them

Customers buy what your products and services do for them.  When you talk price, be certain to talk end result benefits and value.  Watch their reactions.  You’ll see the spark in their eye and their willingness to accept your price.

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Office Building Went from Empty to Full In Record Breaking Time

  
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Today as I was getting in the elevator with 3 other people it struck me how different that felt. For 6 years I’ve been in the elevator alone 99% of the time. Although it’s a beautiful building, overlooking a lake with 2 swans and their new signet, it’s been at 40% occupancy. The few of us that are here make comments to each other like long lost friends when we cross paths in the hallways or bathrooms. In fact, the vacancy issue helped renegotiating the lease for Sales Training  Consultants 2 years ago.

Now there are people in the elevator! And after 6 years others are taking ‘my’ self imposed parking space!Sales Office

What happened to make this change? New building and property manager owners. I do give them credit, the building within 4 months is at 80% occupancy. What did they do that the other owners and property management team didn’t?

1. They believed in their product and ignored the economy. The building has everything going for it – location, beauty, windows – it’s an A building. They had no doubt people wouldn’t want to be here.

2. They prospected. The on property manager shared that the owner began advertising BEFORE he officially owned the building. AND he requested a list of everyone that had been shown the building in the past 6 months. They got on the phone and re-engaged the ones who had not yet found their ideal space.

3. They remodeled offices BEFORE renting them. People buy emotionally and probably rent that way too. They could ‘see’ themselves’ in that space and not need to worry about remodeling or visualizing moved walls. They spent money to make money.

4. They added value by offering new tenants extras – new lighting, painting colors of their choice, etc.

5. They provided customer service. The new building maintenance manager visited each office, introduced himself and checks in often to be sure everything is working and that we are satisfied. They’ve added the customer contact and touch points making us feel special and important. Sellers of all business services and products could apply theses points and possibly gain new sales and clients in record-breaking time. What do you think?

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No Has A New Meaning In Sales

  
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Guest Blogger:  Gloriann Perque

Recently I read the “Go for No” book by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton.  Their approach is very interesting and one I grew up with.  Go For No’s premise is about the relationship you have with the word NO… what you think and feel when you hear it, and what you do afterward as a result – whether you seek opportunities to hear NO again, or whether you run from them – is THE single most important factor in determining the level of success you will achieve in your life.

sales tips, sales

I was blessed to have an incredible woman as a mother and this little book, one more time, confirmed it.  Let me tell you why.

As a young adult every time I had to do something hard, or different and was afraid my mother would say:  “You have two pockets in your pants in one you have a NO and in the other you have a YES.   Just go for it  – if you get a no – keep it in your pocket until you get the answer you want.   But, if you get a yes take the no out,  and throw it away.   Then you bring the yes out and have fun, celebrate and enjoy the moment.”

Now that I am a mother I have used the same words countless of times with my son.

My son recently graduated from college, and finding a job in this economy, NOT AN EASY THING!

After a few job interviews, a few no’s, and not getting what he wanted (a job related to his business degree in the automotive industry) he decided to give himself a job and started his own business, Bullet Motorsports, Inc.  What he does is he manages the process of selling a car on behalf of the customer. This includes finding the desired purchaser, negotiating the price, delivering the final paperwork and if necessary securing financing.

He gets quite a few no’s trying to be able to get people to trust him to sell their extremely expensive and incredible vehicles, but with every no his determination has grown stronger and stronger.   As of today he has 5 cars to sell, 5 more pending contracts and sold a $130,000 racecar in 4 days and 2 others in 1 week.

Keep in mind my son started his business 5 weeks ago.  I am sure there will be a lot more No’s to come, but I am positive that the Yes’s will outnumber them in value and success.

So let’s keep looking for those No’s like the book and my mom said because eventually the Yes’s will follow.

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Negativity Has Left the Building: Focus on the Positive & Show Negativity the Door

  
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It’s the beginning of August, and I just received a phone call from someone I met at a July 4th Bar-B-Q. Quite honestly I had forgotten about this particular conversation until the phone call today. You see, I had given this person a personal challenge and asked him to try it for 3 weeks and let me know if there was a difference.Negativity has left the building

Sales Team Gone Negative
John approached me and introduced himself as someone had told him that I help sales people sell more and managers manage better for their sales people to sell more. He was at his wits end because his sales team had gone negative, they were selling less and he could see his ship had sprung a major leak and was going down.

I asked John how he was responding to his sinking ship. He said he didn’t enjoy talking to his team and that all he could do was tell them to get over it.

Manager Tip to Motivate the Team
I really didn’t want to spend my 4th of July “working” so I gave him an exercise to show negativity the door. This is what I told him:

1. Get an index card for each seller.
2. Place their name at the top.
3. List all of the good qualities for each person.
4. Carry the cards around each day.
5. Look at them and any chance you get comment to your sellers about one of the good qualities.
6. Do this every day for 3 weeks and let me know if you see a difference.

John snickered and said that finding good qualities would be difficult for one person in particular. I asked him to find something – even if it was that they had a nice smile, or a good voice or dressed well. It didn’t matter. You can find something good in everyone, even if it’s only one thing.

Less Negativity Increases Sales Opportunities
When John called me after his 3-week experiment, he was amazed at how the negativity had left the building! People were collaborating on strategy, new ideas and new ways to bring in business. The attitude and atmosphere had changed, the energy was different and he could see things were turning around.

It is amazing how focusing on the positive will shift people’s thoughts, attitude and behavior. What negative feelings would you like to diffuse in your office? Whose attitude might benefit from a positive pick me up? If negativity is in your building and you’d like to show it the exit, I challenge you to take this 3-week challenge – and please come back and post your success in the blog post area!

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My Answer to Sales Productivity

  
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In honor of my birthday today, I treated myself to a present (I do this every year!).

This year my present is a Pulse Smart Pen by Livescribe and it’s really cool.

sales productivity gift

If you’re like me, I agonize over how to find the time to take all the hand written notes from a meeting, conference, seminar, or sales call and get them typed.  I have folders and folders of notes from meetings, conferences and seminars in my file cabinet and from time-to-time I remember there is a nugget in those notes and either can’t remember which folder it’s in or am away from the office when I need or want that information.  Plus I take copious notes on my telephone and face-to-face calls with customers and prospects and then have trouble finding the time to enter them into my CRM program.  So I have papers and folders everywhere.  Sound familiar?

Thanks to my birthday present I think I’m in heaven with the Pulse Smart Pen.  Last week I was part of 25 women entrepreneurs mastermind group committed to helping women success.  My Pulse Smart Pen took all of my handwritten notes, and with a push of the computer button transferred them to a word doc.  I could then edit, arrange, organize, prioritize in minutes!  Now I have my action items, my goals, my plan at my fingertips.   If I didn’t have the Smart Pen those notes would potentially already be collecting dust.

It’s cool how it works.  You write on special paper… and not only does it capture everything you write, it’s also a digital recorder.  You can record as you’re writing or better yet, I recorded the presentation I was listening to – while taking my notes.  Now my notes talk to me!  If I couldn’t understand my scribble or didn’t capture everything, I didn’t need to worry.

Already this week I took my notes from telephone sales calls and at the push of the button, they are already in a word doc and entered into the crm.  For those of you that know my piles of paper… come on over to the office… you can see my clean desk top!

P.S. I always like a sale…. Target has the pen on sale… plus I got a $15 Target gift card with purchase!

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Make Sales With the Leads Without Phone Numbers

  
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Sue Battle Robbins wrote on Linkedin Sales Buzz Group:

When you get web based leads with no phone numbers, what is your tactic? Do you find and call anyway or is this a sign they don’t want any calls? Just curious what the rest of the group may do. phone and computer resized 600

Here are 5 tips for leads with no phone numbers from the responses:

1. Do not prejudge the lead.  Proceed to qualify the lead – when someone has taken the time to stop and submit information they are at least a warm prospect.

2. Play detective.  The internet has made it so easy.  Go to Linkedin and search by name.  If nothing comes up, look at the email address after the @.  Visit the website, find the main number.  The more information you know about them and the company will help you initiate the call.

3. Prepare what you are going to say.  Open with… you visited our website (insert website name) seeking…. add your value proposition and explain to best help them there’s some additional information that is needed..

4.  Differentiate yourself. More than likely the other sellers this person contacted may have prejudged and made the decision – no number, no call. You can out-sell the competition!

5. Do all of the above with email.  They emailed and didn’t leave a number.  Email could be their preferred way of communicating.  We communicate with customers the way in which they prefer.  Do the legwork, follow sequence in #3, and offer three dates/times you are available for a telephone consultation.

Every lead is an opportunity to advance a sale.  Don’t pass them by.

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How I Got Into Sales and What Others Can Learn From It

  
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“How did you get into sales?” my niece Melissa asked me today.  After 3 years of teaching in the public school system I was making the exact same amount of money.  The first school district I worked for went on strike 9 weeks into the school year and the teachers still lost on raises and step increments.  The 2ndschool district wouldn’t go on strike for fear of losing their jobs and they were 4 years into no cost of living or step increment raises.  As a single 25 year old, I wanted to be able to live, buy and save, and on $8200 in 1975, that simply wasn’t enough. To do all 3 and have that cover 12 months, sent me looking elsewhere.

In researching other job options without going back for another degree, I liked what my neighbor Jay was doing.  He was selling for Seagram’s and on the tennis court every day by 3 p.m.  I wanted that job!

Sales people

There were very few women in sales and it took a while and quite a bit of creativity to even get in for interviews (ah, another blog idea on how to make your resumes stand out), American Greetings hired me.  I more than doubled my base salary the first day of work.  My Career Path went onward as a Field Sales Manager with American Greetings to the Sales Manager and VP of Sales and Marketing for Harte Hanks Communications in Miami and Tucson.  At Harte Hanks you wore many hats, and my other was sales and leadership training manager.

In 1983, I took the plunge to begin Sales Training Consultants.  It made sense and was easy for me to take my teaching, sales and sales management experience and do what I love best… teach… only now adults instead of 6th graders.

After telling my life story, I turned to Melissa and asked, “What prompted you to ask me how I got in to sales?”  Melissa is a recent Grad School Graduate (Pratt) with a Psychology degree and specialty in Creative Arts Therapy.  She’s wondering what does she really want to do and said she was afraid that whatever she did first she’d need to do for the rest of her career.

Over the years many college graduates and sales people early in their careers wonder and often worry about getting ‘stuck’ in what ever their very first job is.

Here are 3 Tips for all experience levels:

1. Follow Your Passion

Select a job not necessarily in your graduated field, have an interest or passion in it.  When you like what you’re doing, you are happier which is better for your well-being and in return for your employer.  Even if it’s not the ‘ideal’ job in your field, view it as a stepping stone.  We crawl before we walk.

2. Your First Job Isn’t Your Destiny

You may start out as a bartender; move up to assistant manager and who knows one day you may own a chain of restaurants.  I began as a school teacher and ended up owning a training solution firm.  I had always thought I’d be a Principle of a school.  Notice as you ask people ‘their story’, you’ll find their current job is not necessarily what they thought they’d be when they grew up!

3. Be Valuable At Every Job You Take

Be visible and valuable.  Make every day count towards doing your best and learning something.  No one, no matter how experienced they are, knows everything.  Your more valuable to yourself and the company if you are open minded to learn and try to build a better mousetrap.  The worst thing you can do is think you know everything and let everyone know that.

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Hire and Retain Salespeople Who Consistently Develop New Business

  
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Justo and I were co-sales managers beginning with 7 outside and 2 inside sellers.  Within three years, we grew the sales team to 33 outside and 22 inside sellers.  Justo is now president of a major publication in South Florida and my team is facilitating weekly 30-minute sales boosters (sharpenz.com) for his sales team!

Working with Justo’s sales team got me a little nostalgic.  I won’t say how many years ago this was, as a lady never shares her age! I do remember the numerous days of prospecting and field rides with our sellers to make things happen.  I also remembered the days of working vacant territories due to losing sales representatives – mostly our decision for their career re-direction.

Why did we let them go? It almost always came down to lack of prospecting, which equated to lack of sales.  Prospecting is the key to sales growth and success for many organizations.

Have you hired someone who raved about their prospecting talent and boasted about the new business they had developed? Yet for you they brought in very little, and in time they had to go.

I remembered the days of complaining that salespeople weren’t making the contacts needed to gain new business or that our salespeople didn’t have enough in the pipeline to sustain growth. Each of these situations cost us, through both high turnover and low sales productivity.

Have you experienced this situation?  Most managers do.

Today there are more tools available to avoid the Hire and Hope and change that to the Hire and Know.

I wish I’d had these tools years ago.  We did have an extensive four-part interviewing process, including standard behavioral interviews and a half-day observation ride with a top producer. And we still mis-hired.  In retrospect, we looked primarily for sales experience and the ability to be coached.  Had I known to also focus on prospecting and that there is a way to test that, it would have saved me hours of firing and re-hiring, lost revenue in vacant territories and uncountable retraining dollars.

I want to save you the pain of unmanned territories, loss of income, and even customers that a poor hire can cost the company.  I recommend SPQ as a hiring tool to be integrated into your hiring process.

SPQ™ answers the questions:

  • Will they prospect?
  • How much they are likely to produce?
  • How soon will they produce?
  • Are they coachable?
  • What, if any, is their call reluctance type?

SPQ™ doesn’t tell you if they can sell, it tells you if they will sell. Isn’t that what you really need to know? Our clients are thrilled that before they hire a sales representative, they know whether the seller will make those sales calls or not. Not five years out, but next week and next month.  In today’s tough sales arena, this extra insight is well worth it.

And what about your present sales team?  What if you knew their call reluctance issues and coached them on that behavior and skill set?  That’s what Times-Shamrock does at its annual Sales Boot Camp.  At last September’s boot camp, Rebecca’s SPQ assessment indicated she had telephobia – fear of making sales call by phone – and yet she was an inside sales person.  Here’s what Rebecca had to say two weeks after learning about her reluctance tendencies.

“When we took the SPQ™ test, it showed that I was hesitant to use the phone to call prospects or sell.  Recently, we had a special booklet to sell.  I found myself making lists of people to call, following through on my calls, and actually closing the sale. Somewhere I found courage in me I thought I didn’t have.  I sold four new customers because of this!”

It’s time to hire and retain sales people who will consistently develop new business!

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Getting the Back 9 to Count in Increasing Your Sales: It’s All About Process

  
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What could golf possibly have to do with increasing your sales? Well, my golf game the other day gave me a wake up call to increasing sales that can apply to everyone in the field, golfer or not. It’s all about process.

After many lessons –and practice – over the past five years, I have my handicap down to a 13.  But today I started off poorly and had a 50 stroke score at the end of the front 9 holes.  This is 7 strokes higher than my average!  For the competitive person that I am, I felt as if I was failing, not living up to my potential and more concerned that I’d repeat that performance on the back 9.

golf club

I decided to assess the situation and my results.  For some reason, I felt uncomfortable over the ball and was having difficulty focusing. I knew I had to slow down, relax and think about as few things as possible. More importantly I had to think about the process that works for me – focus and basics.  Picking my target, the proper stance, shifting my weight, and following through.

I turned to my partner said, “I need to shoot a 40.”  And I did exactly that.

So how exactly does this relate to sales? In sales when we’ve lost our groove and too many clients are saying “no,” we can take ourselves down into a dangerous funk.  Each customer contact comes up in the loss column and we may feel like we can’t get out of our own way.  And slowly we see our sales tanking.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is stop and ask, When I was successful, what was I doing?  What was my process that worked?  What was making the difference for me to increase sales? Was it that I was taking 5 to 20 minutes before each call to prepare?  Did I write out the objective of the upcoming sales call?  Did I formulate the questions I needed to ask to accomplish the objective? It may be that simple:  slow down, take a breath and go back to the process that worked for you before.

As a manager, when you see any of your seller’s loosing their edge it’s a coaching opportunity.  Take the time to regroup, help them remember past successes and reflect on the process the followed for their successes and a focused plan.

What’s your process that gets your back 9 to count to increase your sales?

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Finding Time to Coach for Improved Sales Performance

  
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Recently this post on linkedin by David Brock at partnersinexcellenceblog.com caught my attention.  “How do we find the time to coach our sales people?”  I have what I think is the right answer, although I was curious how others responded and what the attached blog had to say.

The gist of the blog is

• In a survey of several hundred sales managers, we found sales managers “coached” their sales people 1 time per quarter or less! Based on this, a sales person is lucky if they get 4 coaching sessions per year.

• Coaching is a problem as its not being done.

• Coaching is different than performance review.

• Coaching should be integrated into everyday business as part of the daily conversations.

• Effective coaching conversations are a combination of asking and telling.

The 2 responses agreed with David and felt it was a shame that few managers leveraged this development tool.

SalesTrackRecordHowever, I didn’t feel the question had been answered.  How do we find the time to coach our sales people?  It is simple… GET OUT OF THE OFFICE AND GET IN THE CAR AND RIDE WITH YOUR SELLERS.

You will be amazed at what you learn, what you can teach your sellers and how their performance will improve.  As sales manager at Harte-Hanks Communications in the 80’s my MBO was set up that 80% of my bonus was based on the number of field rides per quarter and 20% on meeting and exceeding goals.  I was in the field 4 out of 5 days per week.  It was my choice to spend the 4 days with one seller or 4 different sellers or even 8, providing a half-day with each.

Amazing things happened.  First, there were fewer fires for me to put out.  Our sellers knew I was unavailable and they were empowered to take care of their own problems – and they did.  Second, sales were better the quarters that I rode with sellers than the quarters where I was on special projects (with an adjusted MBO plan).  There is a direct correlation to increased sales and field rides.  Please note – I did not sell for my sellers.  I may have interjected a question if I heard the sales conversation taking a wrong turn to bring it back on track.  That’s all.

The 3 components to the field rides made for the sales successes were:

1. A pre-call check before we walked in the door.

What was the objective of the call?

What did we already know?

What did we need to learn?

What are the questions the seller was going to ask to obtain the information?

What obstacles might we encounter?  How would we respond?

2. A post-call check after the call and before the next one.   Did we accomplish the objective?  If not, what happened?  What did we miss?  What would we do differently the next time? What are the next steps?  Who’s doing what by when?

3. After 2-5 calls a Skills Coaching Session that same day over coffee.  By observing several sales calls I looked for the skills and behaviors that if enhanced would make a difference to future sales calls and outcomes.  There were times that there was a long list of skills, but I kept my mouth shut.  I selected ONE and coached towards that one skill.  People can and will focus and change one behavior at a time.  Imagine your boss telling you 5 things you need to do differently now.  Would you do any of the five?  Most likely not.  Select 1, the most impactful one.  Coach, role play, and discuss the skill. Provide examples.  Set the next field ride to continue coaching to develop that one skill.

If you haven’t figured out already remaining in the office and not participating in joint field rides is one of my pet peeves.  Back to the opening question: How do we find the time to coach our sales people?  We make the time and just do it.  It really is a lot of fun!

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Do You Wish There Was An Easier Way To Respond to Sales Objections?

  
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Customers are saying ‘It costs to much.” “Business is slow I don’t need to advertise.” And most sellers have a prepared response.  Unintentionally, these responses are often framed to prove the customer wrong.  There’s a better sales technique.  It’s very simple:  You don’t need to have an answer.  You only need a question!

This week Ed Baron of Ed Baron and Associates and myself are facilitating an annual 5-day Sales Boot Camp for 18 sellers of radio, internet, newspaper, alternatives and community newspapers.  The week consists of sales training topics on selling skills, competitive media, proposal writing made easy, and powerful partnering. We finished Day 3 and have been having very interesting conversations about sales objections.  One seller asked, “Do advertising executives have a cologne of their own?  I walk into businesses and they immediately know I’m an advertising sales representative and often before I can even say hello and shake their hand I’m hearing everything and anything from I can’t afford it to, I tried it before and it didn’t work to the economy is bad and I’m not advertising.”  A big discussion ensued about what to say to each of these ‘objections.’   Everyone had many different ‘come backs.’ sales objections, sales training

After listening intently to this conversation, Ed and I asked how often do their responses work and the customer opens up and accepts the opportunity for a meeting to discuss their business and how the seller may have a marketing solution to turn cost into an investment and no customers into more customers?  And they said very few.

So, I guess that way isn’t working!  I can see where that would be very frustrating and after enough of that kind of rejection begin to demoralize a seller.  Sellers can fall into the trap of believing the economy is so bad and business owners won’t buy from me now.

We know that’s not the case.  Businesses are buying and they could and would buy from these sellers if they changed how they are currently responding to these objections.

It’s very simple:  You don’t need to have an answer.  You only need a question!  Think about that.  If you have a question you:

• Engage the customer. They will be the one talking and often they talk themselves into advancing the sale!  Their talking builds rapport and trust.

• Gain more information.  It costs too much is too vague.  What does that really mean?  I don’t have money, I spent money before and didn’t get a return on my investment or I don’t see a value in what you are selling.  How do I even know how to respond if I really don’t know specifically what ‘it costs too much’ means to them?

• Reduce stress.  Knowing you need the perfect answer is stressful.  Wondering if what you say will satisfy the objection and help you advance the sale is stressful.  Think about this… having a good question is less stressful.  Good questions to those often asked objectives are easy to have – and having several questions to select from is easy which also makes it less stressful.

I challenge you to list the objections you hear and prepare at least one question you can ask to help you advance the sale.

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Can There Be A Sales “Wow” in Lost Luggage?

  
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Everyone dreads flying to their final destination and finding out your luggage didn’t arrive with you.  Ugh.  This happened to me last Saturday.  In my 27 years of traveling for business, this has only happened 3 times.  I do have good “airplane karma.”  Two of the three times my luggage didn’t arrive until the next day and I taught the sales training seminar in the jeans I flew in the day before.  Everyone understands.

luggageLast Saturday I arrived in Baltimore and my luggage didn’t.  Southwest took an unpleasant situation and made it a bit more pleasant.  First, the customer service representatives at the counter were friendly, smiling and genuinely offering their empathy and help.  They appeared to make it a point that I was a person with feelings and not another bothersome passenger with luggage issues.  I wasn’t irate or mad, it happens, and as I mentioned – it rarely happens to me.

The best part is how they offer to get you and your luggage reunited.  You have a choice – they will deliver it to you or you can pick it up at the airport AND receive a $50 travel voucher!  Imagine making money on lost luggage. That will put a smile on most any lost luggage recipients faces.

Southwest is turning a negative customer service and customer loyalty opportunity into a positive.  They took their ordinary Now and turned it into a WOW.  There were only 2 other people in line at that time and I heard each one of them say WOW!

Recently we worked with Continucare helping elevate their customer satisfaction survey responses and ratings, plus reduce membership dis-enrollments. We asked participants to make a list of each customer contact point and write what they are doing now at each of these points.  For example a customer touch point at one Continucare office is when the patient is leaving the doctor’s office.  The patient stop at the counter/window and either reviews payment and/or next steps.  The now is the receptionist says, “Thank you and good-bye” and maybe “Have a nice day.”  They elected to turn this customer contact to a WOW by placing quotes on little pieces of paper (Chinese fortune cookie size) in a big bowl on the counter.  After completing the necessary paperwork, the customer is asked to take a quote from the bowl.  This puts a smile on their face and makes them feel good.  That’s a low cost WOW to enrich the customer experience.

As I left Southwest’s luggage counter later Saturday evening with luggage in one hand and a $50 travel voucher in the other, it didn’t bother me at all that my luggage didn’t make it on the same plane as me.

What can you do to take each customer touch point and turn it from ordinary to a WOW?  How could that increase your sales?

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Sales Training in Thailand

  
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The first question people ask when they hear we’re presenting sales training seminars internationally is, “How is selling different there?”  Interestingly enough, our experience whether it’s Israel, France, China or Thailand – sales is universal.  There may be customs on handshakes and how to offer your business card, but when it comes down to the sales conversation the steps are universal worldwide.Sales Training

3 Key Universal Sales Concepts

1. People have a preferred way of buying.  Sell to them they way they want to buy.  For example: Some people want and need lots of facts to evaluate, compare and analyze.  Others want all the facts for the sake of having lots of information.  Still others want only the most important facts and in a highlighted fashion, and there are some believe it or not that could care less about the facts but do care if others are using it and how happy are they.  Listen to your prospect/client’s choice of words, pace, and body language to help identify the way they want to be sold in order to buy.

2. Prepare vs winging it.  There’s quite a difference in the desired outcome when the seller has prepared what to say and ask based on the objective of the conversation.  If they haven’t thought this through and find their customer or prospect on the other end of the phone or face-to-face with them – they tend to stumble over their words and struggle with gaining their intended goal.  Invest at least 5 minutes in prep time and expect better results.

3. Focus the conversation on What’s in it for Them.  No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Drive the entire collaborative conversation with questions and benefits about them and where they want to be.  People do not buy today – they already have today.  They are buying tomorrow.  What is their tomorrow along with the risks and rewards of getting there?  When you can deliver them tomorrow, then it’s your turn to talk about your products and services and how you can do that for them.

Sales is sales is sales.  No matter where you are selling principles are universal. We’re looking forward to meeting and providing sales training to another 30 talented Asia Pak sellers – helping them to make every conversation matter.



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Sell with Confidence – Don’t Chase The Sale

  
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It’s happened to all of us.  We see a twinkle in the eye of a prospect and our thoughts get set on the goal of making a sale.  In a nano second we stop listening or asking more questions and then lose sight of following the sales process or even think about the solution in regards to meeting and exceeding the prospects need.  We get fixed on chasing the sale.

Well we all know what generally happens next.  Nothing.  We lose the sale and often the relationship. chasing the sale

Here are 3 important tips to avoid ‘chasing the sale’:

1. Prepare.  Treat every customer contact as if it was the first time meeting.  Why?  Because you’ll prepare!  Go through the checklist each time:  What is the purpose of this contact?  What is the ultimate objective?  What do I already know to meet the objective?  What do I need to learn?  What questions will I ask to learn the information? What possible obstacles will be encountered?  How will I respond to them?  What am I going to say to launch the conversation?  What actions do I need to take to close the conversation?

2. Keep the Focus on Them.  Your audience is continually asking themselves, “What’s in this for me?’ That’s all they care about.  When you lose sight of this, they lose interest and there’s a tendency to talk more about your product and service.  You can kiss that sale good-bye.  How is your solution going to change their lives?  Make them more money?  Reduce costs? Grow their business? Remember, the easiest way to lose a sale these days is to ‘sell’ to people. Make it about helping them – not about your bottom-line or the sale. So stop selling to people and start helping them buy from you.

3. Ask for Feedback.  Buyer feedback is essential. Without it, you won’t know what you’re doing right and what barriers may keep them from buying.  Know what questions to ask and don’t be afraid of the answers.  Feedback questions generally elicit your prospect’s feelings and/or opinions.  “What do you think? What is your overall impression?  How does this compare to others you are considering?” If you don’t gain feedback you’ll miss out on real opportunities and wonder why they didn’t buy from you.  Once you ask, remember to listen!

When you stop chasing the sale, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you’ll close more sales.

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When You’re Stuck During a Sales Call Improvise Like a 4 Year Old

  
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Maribel was anxious and nervous for her granddaughter, Sara.  It was the morning of Sara’s first solo dance recital.  Maribel was a ballerina as a young girl and knows about the knots in your stomach on recital days.Sara's dance

The loving grandmother that she is, she didn’t want Sara to have an embarrassing moment at her first solo dance recital.   From experience, Maribel knows those embarrings moments can still haunt you.  This particular morning, Maribel’s parting words to Sara were the words of her own mentor spoke to her before a recital, “When you are performing if you forget a part, don’t stop, improvise, keep on going.”

The entire family of aunts, uncles and cousins are in the audience.  Several of them have been to Sara’s practices and know her dance routine.  It’s Sara’s turn. Sara starts the first few steps and it’s exactly what they were expecting, then she began dancing to her hearts desire.  Maribel turned to the teacher and asked, “What is she doing?” and the teacher shrugged her shoulders and said she didn’t know, except it was quite good!  As it turns out, Sara is not only a dancer but also a coreogypher. 

Sara was taking her granny’s advice, she had forgotten the dance routine and decided to just dance.

Top performers can take a lesson from Sara.  When top sales professionals get stuck this is what they do:

1.  Be proactive and not reactive.  Anticipate problems, challenges, trends affecting your client’s business.  Strategize with the clients and your company on how to stay ahead of possible set-backs.

2. Be accountable.  Do not allow yourself to blame or become a victim.  Things happen.  Decide are you going to be part of the solution or part of the problem.  Stop and acknowledge that something happened and then ask, “What can you do to make a difference to move this forward?”

3. Seek others for help and advice.  Top performers watch and learn from other top performers in their company and others.  They are watching what others are doing well and take those ideas and apply them to their sales situations.

The next time you think you may get stuck, think of Sara – embrace the moment and keep on going!

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The Importance of Sales Training

  
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It was a great way to end 2011.  It was a beautiful 78 degree day, not a cloud in the sky on the South Florida golf course, Saturday December 31, 2011.  I was playing in the Saturday golf game with 3 of the best golfers in our group of 20.  My first 9 was not satisfactory to my standards and it was time to have a little talk with myself.  First I reflected on the golf lessonGolf ball from the day before and the one key concept the instructor pointed out and we practiced.  Her parting words were that was the only thing I needed to concentrate on for all of my shots.  Then I breathed and the next conversation with myself was on belief – belief in my abilities, my skills and myself.  Well, the next 9 now goes in the history book with a hole-in-one on #3 and ending the round with a 40.  Okay, I didn’t want to state my first 9, but I will – it was a pathetic 51.

Why does this story remind me of the importance of sales training for all businesses?  Because to be good at golf, tennis, soccer, piano, guitar, singing, dancing people take private lessons or participate in group practices with a coach.  All lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professions are required to take additional yearly training and report their CEU credits. 

Yet sales people do not have a certification or a requirement to refresh or upgrade their sales skills.  The US BLS.gov website, reports there are approximately 5 million non-retail salespeople in the US alone.  Most sales people’s earnings include commissions.  Something doesn’t quite make sense here.  There’s no requirement for training for sales people, yet their income and the company’s success is paramount to a sales person’s end results!

My message to you no matter what month of the year you are reading this – sign up for some sales lessons!  Businesses of all sizes can make plan easier, reduce turn over and out-sell, out-think and out-serve the competition with a better trained sales team.  And if the company doesn’t offer sales training – register for courses on your own.  It’s even easier today to find the right resource with the addition of virtual live training resources.

Every sales person wants their hole-in-one!  While it is widely known that is really a luck shot, playing well is based on practice and regularly lessons do help!  Good luck getting your equivalent of a hole-in-one!

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How to Sell in November and December When No One Else Is!

  
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If you polled sales managers nationwide and asked them have they ever heard a seller say: “November and December are very slow months. There’s no point in calling.” it would be a resounding 90%+ “Yes” answer.

Holiday dollars resized 600I find that scary. On the other hand as a seller I want my competition to be in the “I can’t sell doldrums”!

It’s a proven fact that sales can be made in November and December.  Heres what Top Sales Performers do in November and December:

1. Contact established customers.  Call to wish them a happy holiday season without making any kind of sales presentation. Consider this conversation as a customer touch point to build customer loyalty. Customers appreciate the fact that you were thinking of them enough to thank them for their business and wish them a personal seasons greeting.

2. Schedule appointments for early first quarter as a review and planning session.  Often sellers overlook the fact that things change and just because they buy x amount of widgets a year from you doesn’t mean it will be the same this year.  The first quarter meeting is used to revisit the previous year’s goals and outcomes and review future goals. It’s important for sellers to know what’s on the customer’s radar screen for the upcoming year.

3. Call new prospects and others in the pipeline to request a meeting for first quarter.  They will appreciate it if November and December are not good times to meet and if they are, they’ll ask for an earlier meeting date.

4. Many businesses have the ‘use it or lose it dollars’. Budgets that if not spent in this calendar year does not roll over to the following year and the client risks their budget being reduced for the next fiscal year. Ask if this is their case and confirm if they’d like to pre order.


5. Sales Training experts recommend using this time to boost sales training efforts.  Short sales training meetings on prospecting, keeping the pipeline full, sales stratgies, preparation and more can enegize sellers for the slow months as well as have better prepared sellers for the upcoming year.


Business that is worked on and created today – generally comes to fruition in 3-6 months. If you aren’t making contacts because it’s slow now.. you will have a less than stellar February and March.

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12 Tips to Close End of Year Sales Fast

  
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Guest Blog By Kendra Lee, President, KLA Group

It’s November and the fourth quarter of business for many companies, bringing with it crunch time for achieving your sales goals. You may find yourself pushing to attain your revenue goal but uncertain what you can do to speed customer decision making.

EndofYear2011 200pxWhether self-imposed or a number the company is counting on you to bring home, the pressure feels the same. The days are counting down too quickly and the gap in your sales goal feels too big.

With just weeks left in the year, you need to close sales fast, but don’t want to appear desperate. Here are 12 strategies you can use to close sales without proposing discounts and special offers:

1. Review all the proposals you closed this year and make a list of things customers decided to “wait to do.” Close them now.

2. Spend two days closing lingering proposals, even the ones from last January.

3. Up-sell add-ons you thought would inflate the original solution you sold this year.
   
4. Sell one more. Look for opportunities to sell one more of something small or simple: one more PC, one small project, one more staff administrative position. Sell a bunch.

5. Conduct a 2011 review meeting with your top eight customers. Look back on the year’s successes and forward to what still needs to be accomplished before year end.

6. Look for clients with remaining 2011 budgets that they’d like to spend on 2012 priorities.

7. Call every client you haven’t talked to in 90 days to see how they’re positioned to start 2012. Do they need your services in December to get off to a fast start?

8. Call all prospects who have been pushing you off. Check in to see how they’re positioned to achieve their first quarter initiatives.

9. Review your forecast and identify the steps required to close everything – then execute.

10. Enlist your manager’s and / or team’s support in overcoming roadblocks holding any of your customers or prospects back from buying.

11. Remind customers you welcome referrals. Who do they know that needs help to get through year end?

12. Set appointments for January to give yourself a fast start to next year. You may find last minute opportunities while you’re at it!

 

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 www.klagroup.com or call +1 303.741.6636.

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Is There Such a Thing as Firing Etiquette?

  
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The phone termination of Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, was the second within a month of poor firing methods that I’ve come across.  A blind ad was placed on a job board for the Director of Fitness and Spa.  An employee at this Fitness Center applied to the blind ad, only to receive the thank you for applying email with the HR Department’s email of her current employer. Fired Seller

The Director with this surprise information from the employee who had applied (for her job!) asks her boss what’s up.  Her boss, caught by surprise, proceeds to say this was premature, but her services were no longer needed in that area.  How’s that for a surprise about your job?   What else was a surprise, is this was a 25 year employee without ever a meeting informing her of a lack of performance or the need to bring in an outsider to take the department to the next level. 

So where’s the etiquette in firing today?  Is Carol Bartz’s telephone firing similar to my pet peeve of hiding behind email for those tough conversations? Or is it as bad as  Carrie in Sex in the City thought when she was dumped by her boyfriend Berger via a Post-It note?

Firing an employee is though, if unfortunately you have to do it, here are a few tips:

1. Fire always, always FACE-TO-FACE.

2. Plan when, where and what to say before firing.  You may even write what you are going to say.  If you do provide an explanation, be certain it is behaviorally specific and not subjective – “We don’t like your attitude.” – even if you are in a right-to-fire state.  It is always safe to say,  “It’s not a fit at this time” and leave out the tit-for-tat.

3. Have necessary paper work and options prepared.  Is there a buy-out clause, what does the contract specifically say about termination?  Have two copies of the contract.  The employee most likely has their copy in their safe, not in their desk drawer.  Take care of as much closing out (moving on) business as possible in the moment.

4. What’s the office desk and building exit plan?  Are you meeting them after hours?  Are you asking them to clean out their desk immediately?

Firing is never easy.  Remember how you fire can go around the world via social media as Carol Bartz’s story did effecting your brand and ability to attract top-notch talent.  Do it right, as it’s the right thing to do.

 

 

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Top 10 Interviewing Mistakes

  
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Track Record

Guest blog by Mel Kleiman, CSP

10. Failing to Create a Job Description: How can you hire the best person for the job if you haven’t defined what “the best” is? In addition to listing tasks and responsibilities, job descriptions should spell out the skills, attitudes, and personality traits that are key to success. (While a librarian and a waiter both need to have good customer service skills, only one of them needs an outgoing personality.)

9. Asking Illegal Questions: Write out your inter-view questions, review each one, and ask yourself: “What does this have to do with the person’s ability to do the job?” If it’s not job-related, don’t ask it. (If you need someone who will be on time every day, don’t ask: “Do you have a reliable daycare provider?” Ask: “Other than personal illness, how many days were you late for work in the last six months?”)

8. Relying on First Impressions: A study by the University of Chicago found 90% of interviewers make a hiring decision within the first 14 seconds of meeting the applicant. (No wonder so many bad hiring decisions are made.)

7. Forgetting Who Needs to Make an Impression: Applicants today are picky about where they’ll work. Interviewers need to sell applicants on the job and the company. (Applicants report major turnoffs are interviewers who are not prepared and being kept waiting.)

6. Hiring Based Only on the Interview: Another study concluded that hiring decisions based on interviews are only eight percent more reliable than flipping a coin! The best predictors of success on the job are testing (53%), a temporary job assignment (44%), and the reference check (26%). Experience is reliable only 14% of the time and age is the least reliable predictor of success (-1%).

5. Biases: A bias is the instant bond you feel when you find out someone is from your hometown  even though its population is over 500,000 and you’ve never met before. Biases cause us to hire who we like best instead of the person who is best for the job.

4. Not Asking the Right Questions: Every unpre-pared interviewer in the world says: “Tell me about yourself,” and then asks: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” And every job applicant has rehearsed answers to these questions. The best questions to start with are: “Tell me about your first paying job. What three things did you learn from it?” Use the same questions to take the applicant through all of their subsequent jobs. The answers paint a vivid picture of the person’s work ethic, commitment, and drive.

3. Talking Too Much: Most interviewers forget that they can’t learn anything while talking. Rule of thumb: The applicant should do the talking at least 80% of the time.

2. Interviewing from the Application or Résumé: When you conduct interviews with either of these documents in hand, you tend to simply confirm the information the applicant has already provided (instead of learning what you need to know).

1. Emphasizing Experience & Education: Harvard Business School determined that the combination of information, intelligence, and skill account for only 7% of business success. Attitude alone accounts for the other 93%. Far too few interviewers ask attitude questions like: “I know you would work harder or longer hours if asked, but, just in the course of your normal workday, what have you done for an employer that is more than what was expected of you?”

 

Mel Kleiman: As the onetime owner of three different businesses (including the largest group of Hertz Rent-A-Car franchise locations in the U.S.), Mel’s expertise is based on his personal experience as a business owner as well as his extensive research and consulting work helping companies design successful employee recruiting, hiring, and retention programs.  www.kleimanHR.com

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5 Minutes for Higher Sales Payoffs

  
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On any given typical day a seller is probably keeping appointments, returning client calls, preparing an upcoming presentation and solving an unexpected client emergency.  When put that way, it’s a wonder how sellers even make their sales quotas!  In that crazy busy world of going from one activity whether you are a seller or a sales manager –I suggest you do one more thing.  And my promise to you is this one action will improve your sales.sales clock

Stop. Stop for 5 minutes and analyze the conversation for higher payoffs.  Stop and ask yourself these 2 questions:

What went well?

Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!  Count everything including your preparation, the rapport, your entire focus on what’s in it for Them (WiifT®), strong investigate questions, how you stop, dropped and rolled through the objections or your strong readiness and decision questions.  Do find at least one positive from the conversation – even if it was a disaster.  One seller who crashed and burned on a presentation decided his positive was his ability to maintain eye contact.  Reflecting on what went well reinforces your strengths in the sales process.

If you had a ‘do-over’, what would you do differently?

Even if you closed the deal, there’s generally something that could have made the conversation even better.  Did you leave anything out?  Were there more objections than preferred or did your buyer get that glazy-eyed look that meant you were talking to much or not tying the solution to one of their POWNS® (problems, opportunities, wants or needs).  What could you have done differently to enhance the outcome of the conversation? Is this an action you’ve overlooked before?  Is it costing you in time, productivity or sales? Catch this now and you may not repeat it in your next presentation. 

5 Minutes Equals Higher Payoffs

5 minutes is the difference to win advance more sales.  Even in your crazy busy world, these could be the best 5 minutes you invest for your future earnings.

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Are There Any Magic Wands for Sales?

  
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Yesterday was week two of what’s going to be once a week massages for several weeks.  My upper back has 2 knots that feel like big concrete blocks.   At the end of the treatment I asked how much movement was she able to make on the 2 knots.  Her response was – they are only hands, not magic wands.   I got the message – not much – the knots didn’t get there overnight – and I might have been expecting too much.magic sales wand

Selling is the same.  Your sellers didn’t stop responding well to objections or reduce asking solid investigate questions in one day.  They began acquiring bad sales habits over time.  And you as a sales manager either overlooked it, didn’t notice it or hoped they’d figure it out on their own and get better.  Warning:  that isn’t going to happen.  Just like the knots in my back are not going away anytime soon.  I expect I’ll have the “hands” – not “magic wands” work their magic on me for at least 6 weeks if not more.

Tips to get the kinks out of your seller’s bad habits:

1. Field Rides.  When is the last time you made joint sales calls?  Not the one to make a joint presentation.  I mean the days or weeks when you ride for the day, or several days, observing a variety of sales situations.  You aren’t there to sell for them.  You are an extra set of eyes and ears discovering what the seller is doing well and looking for areas for improvement.  Open or turn on your electronic calendar now and begin scheduling sales rides.

2. Sales Meetings.  Most sales meetings that I’ve observed are all information dumps.  Sales meetings can be your low cost/no cost training opportunity if they  include a selling skills workshop.  It’s an easy way to fix bad sales habits, curb their re-occurrence and develop best sales practices.  If you don’t have time to figure out how to teach the skill here’s a resource for you: Sharpenz.com.  They have 33 Ready-to-Go Sales Training Kits for 30-minute sales workshop meetings.  Each kit is complete with the leader outline and reproducible handouts.

3. Coaching.  Too often when sales leaders say they are coaching, they really aren’t.  If you think conversing about what did you sell for me today, what are you working on, or putting out the latest fire is coaching – it isn’t.  Business Week’s article, Five Steps for Effective Sales Coaching, reports coaching needs to be an “ongoing, continuous process where one coaching conversation is a continuation of the last” and that it needs to “remain an ongoing priority, not a passing fad.”  If you or your sales leadership team isn’t already coaching – beware – you can’t just tell someone to start coaching.  Coaching is an art and a science as is selling. Provide the right coaching training.

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How to Suck at Sales and Still Blow Your Quota Away

  
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Guest Blog:  Nancy Nardin, Smart Selling Tools

Asking good questions
Listening more and talking less
Selling Solutions rather than products
Being willing to walk away when it’s not a good fit

These are all essential skills of a top sales performer. But you can do a mediocre job at each of those and still be successful in sales. I bet you know someone who fits that description. You wonder how they manage to hit their numbers month after month. I’ll tell you how.sales illustraion

The truth of the matter is, two separate sets of skills are needed to be a top dog. First you have to be great at prioritizing and executing on the hundreds of tasks you tackle each week. And secondly, you have to be great with prospects. But you don’t have to be great at both.

I’m saying this to make a point. An estimated 70% of a sales rep’s time is spent on non-selling activities. How you spend that 70% of your time is therefore very critical.

Here’s a mini-checklist of questions you can ask yourself:

  • Have you taken the time to save your best proposals as templates?
  • Have you created a cheat sheet with your best material to use when you’re on the phone?
  • Have you created a list of your best prospects and a plan of attack for each one?
  • Have you thought through what products your current customers should also buy?
  • Are you working on the urgent and important matters first instead of those you have more fun doing?
  • Have you made note of most time-sucking tasks and looked for ways to be more efficient?
  • Are you good at delegating?
  • Do you have a good system for remembering (and doing!) scheduled tasks?

The better you get at using your non-selling time, the more time you’ll free up for selling.
The more time you can spend selling, the more you’ll sell.

What other questions should be added to this checklist? What do you do to make the best use of your time? Do you have tips and tricks to share?

 

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Questions That Matter In Sales

  
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Recently a team of sellers decided they wanted to create a list of the best questions to ask on a sales call.  We first determined WHY they wanted this list.  They wanted it to (1) make every conversation matter and (2) advance the sale.

It was decided for every conversation to matter it should follow the WIIFT acronym… What’s In It For Them and by follow the 4-Point Investigate Model© to advance the sale.

Here are some (not all) of the questions this team felt would achieve their goals. 

These questions are in no particular order.

Todaysales questions

1. What are your 3 biggest business challenges today?

2. How have past experiences influenced (improved or limited) your current business practice’s?

3.  Tell me more about the nature of the event which prompted you to realize that some changes need to be made.

4. What are the 5 critical factors that (switching, adding, changing) need to be included.

5. How important is this to you?

Tomorrow

1. What does the ideal solution look like for you?

2. It is important for (insert company name) as a company to build long term relationships with our clients. Share with me your vision of growth over the next 10 years and how important it is for you to have a long term partner in this vision?

    3. Humor me for a moment, and let’s fast-forward to the day, hopefully sooner than later, that you’ve had your new system in place long enough to have begun realizing its benefits. What changes do you foresee being most valuable to:  1) you  2) your staff  3) your customers  4) your business, and why?

    4. Help me understand any challenges you may have with your existing system and what if anything you would like to change if you could?

    5. What do you expect the result you receive to look like?

    Risk

    1. What are the potential consequences of not taking any action at this time?

      2. What are the pros and cons if you remain status quo?

      3. What would NOT happen if you did NOT (do this)?

      4. What would NOT happen if you DID?

      5. What other way or ways could you have worked through this and what would the outcomes have been?

      Reward

      1. What is the best thing that can happen?

      2. Once you get there, how is it going to improve your situation?

      3. What WOULD happen if you DID?

      4. What will implenting this do for you and your company?

      5. What will you do with the time, money, savings this will bring the organization?

       

      A bonus realization the sellers came to is these questions will differentiate them from the competition.

      What do you think of their list?  What would you add?

         

             

             

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            Music Adds to Sales Training

              
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            We’re big users of music during our training and I will admit I’m not the music buff I was in the 80’s.  It seems to take me longer and longer to put my playlists together, so I was quite surprised and pleased to see Catherine Lightfoot’s Linkedin discussion: Hi guys, any suggestions on good music / songs to have on at the start / end of training also while group work is going on. Delegates are mid-20s so contemporary would be best.. what has worked well for you? Thanks!music for training

            In our crazy busy days, it’s great that someone made it easier for us.  Here are several of the comments for our blog readers are big users of music in their sales, leadership and customer service training.

            1. Dylan Dolan Big fan of using music in training. I think of who the group is…if there’s a good demographic that I can appeal to, sounds like with mid 20’s it could be quite easy!

            Would suggest thinking of some trip hop…i.e. Zero Seven – Simple Things or The Garden. You can be quite clever about it, with playing specific tracks as an auditory queue for what they’re going to be doing.

            I focus on experiential learning with a lot of group work in the classroom, so once an exercise has started I’d put a certain track on in the background (i.e. Destiny).

            Would also use one piece that I’d slowly increase the volume for at the end of a break…and then turn off, which really creates a new space.  Massive Attack – Mezzanine has a few good tracks too.

            2. Rosanne Goose  Tropicana commissioned some research recently into the best songs to brighten your day. After playing 30 songs to participants they came up with a Top 10. These songs would make a great start to any training.

            Link: https://club.tropicana.co.uk/daily-rays/Fresh-news-and-juicy-offers

            Scroll down for the Top 10 List.                      

            3. Louis Thomas I get all my music for training sessions from iChill (http://www.ichillmusic.com/).

            They write and produce their own music which they sell royalty and licence free meaning you can use it when and where you like without having to pay a licence fee. They have a wide range of styles and tastes available either on CD or downloadable.

            4. Bob Lucas, BS, MA, MA, CPLP There are a couple books that might help with your music selection – Eric Jensen’s Music with the Brain in Mind and Lenn Millbower’s Training with a Beat.       

            5. Tony Welsh  I always have The Blind Boys of Alabama or the sound track from The Committements if I want to take things down a bit and Aretha Franklin to get going again.       

            6. Craig McFadyen In the research that we have undertaken and proven over the years with our own experiences the following guidelines should help:

            • Intro music playing when the group enters and settles, low key soft songs to help the group relax and not walk into a quiet room.

            • During learning time we play baroque / classical which is approximately 60 – 75 beats

            • During activities we play upbeat recent music which is 110 beats and upwards (we have students remark whether we wanted them to work faster as they ‘felt’ the difference in the room!!).

            • Slow quiet songs during wind down/evaluation period at the end. 

            7. Jeanne Allen Something like Jack Johnson – jazzy, can be in the background, relaxing, chillin’ music. And even though the audience is mid-20’s, you really should consider some classical – Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons or Pachelbel’s Canon are fabulous timeless pieces of music that help the brain process.     

            8. Justin Kyriakou We like kicking off with a bit of Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling.              

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            A Tribute To My Dad

              
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            Imagine being 88 years old and still working.  That’s my Dad.  Alice Kemper Sydney Kemper

            On Friday, April 7 he sold his business – a business that he started 50 years ago.  It was a bittersweet day.  At 88 you’d think he’d be ecstatic… he wasn’t.  He birthed a baby 50 years ago and it is hard to let it go.  The business is in a different city than where he currently lives and that doesn’t stop him from being on the phone daily monitoring the business and having reports over-nighted once a week..

            I spent the last week at his office representing him.  In high school and college I worked as a secretary at his business and remained connected to it in ongoing conversations with my father over the years.  Many of the staff today are the men and women that worked there when I did.

            What amazed me the most are the stories everyone shared about working for my Dad.  The common themes were– he believed in me more than I believed in myself, he was a second father to me, he was always fair, helped me and my family when they needed help and I’d do anything for him.  The average tenure of his employees is 30 years! 

            Over the past 10 years – or probably longer – they would ask my father what his plans were for retiring.  He always said none.  And they kept on working.  I’m certain they had opportunities to go elsewhere – only they didn’t.  Without knowing it my father was implementing key leadership principles:

            1. Value Your Employees- Honor and acknowledge everyone’s value to your business and tell them often.

            2. Empower Your Employees – Allow everyone to do their work and provide leadership responsibility for what they do and how they do it.

            3. Create a Team Environment – Foster a spirit of “we” rather than “me.”

            4. Engage Your Employees – Gain a sense of really belonging to the team and to the company.

            5. Inspire Through Example – Act in ways that are fitting to your leadership vision and your self – all the time.

            I’m proud of my Dad and it was an honor to step in and help negotiate the sale.

            I love you Dad.

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            Tired of Making Sales Cold Calls?

              
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            Sellers all over the country groan about cold calling.  They often say it’s a waste of time and it doesn’t bring the return on effort.  We ask, “Where and how are you getting the list of people to cold call?

            What stands out the most is the names and businesses they are calling are not necessarily their target audience.  That could add to the frustration of cold calling – that would be a lot of rejection!  We also find sellers aren’t planning the initial conversation and it goes downhill right from the start.  That’s another message in itself.  telephonewarningsign

            Rob Fruithandler began this discusion on Linkedin:   

            Assuming you could not invest in tools like D&B, Hoovers, etc. What tools or methods would use to identify your best prospects in a state, county or city? Assume the target audience is businesses with more than 100 employees across a broad set of industries.

            Here are 3 responses we think are the most helpful:

            1. Brad Christiansen: Take your top 10 or top 100 most profitable customers and reverse search for their SIC or NAICS code using a free engine like jigsaw. Then search the free data sets for these codes. Sort the results in descending order by gross sales of the target company and get to rock on!

            2. Susan Killen suggests:

            www.jigsaw.com
            www.spoke.com
            www.nascio.com
            www.linkedin.com

            3. Tony Cross: Your starting point to any research / lead generation exercise should be a crystal clear definition of your ideal clients. The more specific the better, and you should use a qualification process too – otherwise regardless of how good the filtering is you could be swamped with unqualified leads. Thereafter, there are many, many lists/databases you can use.

            Bonus: Helen Roditis summed it up so nicely with her personal experience:

            Thank you for the great advice. After 5 years in business coaching, through trial and error, I have clarified my value proposition and putting it out there. And, I have figured out who my ideal client is, as Tony mentioned. Now, I’m trying to find them. So far, I’m on Linkedin building my database. I also write, speak, table at relevant events and do a little advertising. All with a small budget. As Joye said, I figured out how many clients I need. Based on past marketing experience, I determined the list size I need to get to the number of ideal “serious” prospects.

            You Can Eliminate Cold Calls!

            It’s not the list or the name that takes the edge off of ‘cold calls’, it’s the upfront preparation to turn a ‘cold call’ into a ‘first time call’

            First: Qualify the ‘first time call.”  Do they meet your preferred and ideal client criteria? 

            Second: Invest time in some research of their company via their website, linkedin, and other resources.

            Third:  Prepare what you are going to say to launch the call!  Whether it’s to find out the contact name as mentioned in this linkedin discussion or even if you have the name and are calling them directly.  Your introduction is critical to advancing the sales conversation.

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            50 Things I Could Do Better to Sell More, Plus Improve My Life

              
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            Success doesn’t come from a magic bullet.  Success comes from doing 100 things 1% better.  I decided to make my list of 100 things and realized it wasn’t so easy to come up with 100 things to take action on.

            The Achiever in me got worried I wouldn’t be able to do all 100, 1% better every day.  I think the every day was a self-imposed rule.  To make this work for me, I am comfortable with 10 items in my personal category and 10 in personal.  This is my starting point.  % sign

            My plan is to review these 20 every Monday morning and Friday afternoon and work diligently on taking action to make up my 1% improvement.  Once the majority of these 20 are every day habits, I’ll add more to the list!  Now it’s your turn to make your list! 

            Business

            1. Respond to each inquiry within 1 hour.

            2. Send a thinking of you email with a tip to 1 customer per day.

            3. Keep my email box to 50 messages maximum per day.

            4. Keep my desk clean every day.

            5. Make a to-do list every morning, or the evening before.

            6. Opt out of unrelated email blasts

            7. Tweet for 5 minutes each morning.

            8. Tweet for 5 minutes each evening before going to bed.

            9. Blog 1 time per week.  (Will get that up to 3.. baby steps!)

            10. Make 1 extra call back per day.

            Personal

            1. Smile more.

            2. Read my 10 affirmation cards each morning while getting dressed.

            3. Write one surprise I had each day in my daily journal. (This has created GREAT new surprises each day!)

            4. Call my parents (88 and 83) every day.

            5. Thank someone I come in contact with every day.

            6. Drink more water.

            7. Take my calcium pills every day.

            8. Partake in one EFT Tap Along every day.

            9. Attend 1 class per month at The Crystal Garden.

            10. Compliment 1 stranger per day.

            What would you like to do 1% better to make a difference to sales or life?

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            Create Your Future Now..For More Sales and Success

              
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            I hope you are enjoying the first work week of 2011 with one goal…Success!

            Sales managers and sellers alike are already feeling the pressure to meet this year’s sales goals. I know how overwhelming setting goals can be since most of us have set goals and not always achieved all of them.  Even though we are sitting down again at this time of the year to review last year’s goals and set new ones for this year, there is a little voice that often whispers… yea right. Do you want to silence that voice?  I know I do!

            Sales Goals
            Vision Board

            I found a way to keep it quieter at least.  Knowing this reflection time was coming I began clipping out words and pictures from magazines that relate to the goals I want to achieve this year because by January 15 of each year I create a Vision Board.  If you’ve never done one they are a lot of fun and I find useful.

            Let me share a quick tip on Vision Boards from the Sharpenz Ready-to-Go Sales Training Kit Creating Your Future Now.  You can do this with a group or by yourself.  I like doing it with everyone in the office for 30-minutes.  We do a show and tell at the end of the half hour.  Since we are each other’s ‘stakeholders’, it provides each of us a new insight to be supportive.

            TIP: Visualization supercharges sellers’ goal-setting activities. Constructing a Vision Board for business and personal goals is a powerful way to ‘create’ the desired future today – and when these pictures are looked at over and over – incredible results happen! Ask sellers to bring in magazines they are willing to donate.  Provide scissors, glue sticks, markers and 11 x 22 poster board.  For 20 minutes, sellers can cut and paste pictures and words from the magazines of their goals, dreams, wishes and desires, thus creating a Vision Board.

            Whether you create your vision board alone or with a group, it’s a good way to silence the ‘yea right’ voice and use the next 363 days of 2011 to Create Your Future Now!

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            Are You in a Sales Rut?

              
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            Yesterday a seller said to me, “I can’t wait for this year to be over.  I’ve been in such a rut.”  What if this year you were in a sales rut?  Here are 3 things that may help you get out of your rut. sad cubes

            1. Re-evaluate Your Goals.  Maybe you haven’t made any of your goals – sales, business or personal.  Instead of setting long term goals, set one personal growth goal per day.  Yes, per day.  By achieving a goal each day, that will put a smile on your face, make you feel good and could even be the energy boost you need.  The goals can be simple:  Go for a walk, call a long lost friend, eat one less dessert, clean your closet or make one more sales call.  You get the idea. As you check off a small daily goal, watch what can happen to those even bigger ones.

            2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.  We’ve all said, “ I wouldn’t do that, I don’t do that, I don’t like that.”  Are you saying that because it would place you outside of your comfort zone?  You don’t ‘think’ you would like that or you’re safe in your protected world of same old same old.  Breaking out could show you a different side of life.  It could be more fun, more freeing and help discover a talent or interest you didn’t know you possessed.  Look for opportunities to say, “I’ve never thought of that our I’ve never tried that and I think I will!”

            3. Change Your Routine.  You could begin with taking a different route to the office!  You would see new businesses starting up and different billboards.  You may even need to pay more attention to the drive since you aren’t as familiar with it.  Seeing things with new eyes does more than making you aware of your surroundings – it transfers over to seeing what you do day in and day out differently.  It may help eliminate boredom, get you more focused, or change the way you prospect.  Changing your routine may be just what it takes to get rejuvenated about selling.

            Good luck, take the plunge it could be a brave new world out there!

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            20 Days Until 2011. .. Finish Selling Strong

              
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            Yikes! It’s only 20 days until 2011.  Are you already wondering (and possibly worrying) about getting your sellers ramped up, pumped up and out of the gate to make a strong start in the first quarter of 2011?

            Sales Training KitIt may be easier than you think.  Sharpenz for Sales (www.sharpenz.com/dec2010) can be your answer to better trained and more motivated sellers which will make a difference to first quarter sales.

            How is that?  Sharpenz for Sales is Do-It-Yourself sales training – with a twist.  Sharpenz are short sales boosts of training.   Short as they only take 30 minutes of a sales meeting.  Sales boosts because they sharpen or boost a particular skill.  And Do-It-Yourself because they are all inclusive Ready-To-Go sales training kits for sales managers, trainers, or even senior sales representatives to lead the 30-minute activity.

            Imagine using 30 minutes of one of your meetings to introduce or sharpen a sales skill.  That boost of focus could explode every seller’s sales ability – and in return boost sales!

            Sales training with a twist…30 minute Ready-to-Go Sales Training Kits.  On sale!   20% off December Promotion. www.sharpenz.com/dec2010

            Here’s a Sharpenz for Sales Tip is from the Now to Wow Ready-To-Go Sales Training Kit: 

            Each contact is a touch-point that provides an opportunity to stand out from the competition and build trust and appreciation to build a loyal customer relationship. 

            1. Take a piece of paper and make 3 columns. 

            2. First column title Touch Points.  List all of the touch points sellers will have the rest of this month. 

            3. Second column title Now.  Write in what sellers do at each of those touch points. 

            4. Third Column title WOW.  What can you do differently to elevate what you do in the NOW column to a WOW. 

            For example:  if a touch point is after the sale.  The Now is writing a thank you note.  The WOW could be adding a little quote card (found in many gift stores) inside the note.  When the customer opens the thank you card, they also get a quote card and will say “WOW’!

            Sharpenz for sales will equip your team to out-think, out-perform and out-sell the competition!

            20% off December Promotion. www.sharpenz.com/dec2010

            P.S. Check out the complete Sharpenz Catalog:  http://tinyurl.com/23fr6uo

            Enjoy the remaining 20 days of 2010…Finish Strong and Begin 2011 with a Fast Start!

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