Monday, June 30, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Business is like riding a bicycle. Either you keep moving or you fall down." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?

I was an accident-prone child to begin with, so the process was full of scrapes, bruises, and the occasional dent in the family car. But like most kids, I was determined to try again and again until I finally got it right.

Similarly, building a successful sales career is all about determination. You'll fall down many times, and oftentimes encounters with prospects will leave your ego bruised, but reaching your goal makes it all worthwhile.

So after you've had a challenging day, reflect on what you could do differently, and get back on the bike - you'll be one step closer to reaching your goal.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

At the Sound of the Beep...

There's a school of thought that says never leave a voicemail for someone you're cold calling. These candidates for Tim Wackel's voicemail hall of shame should have heeded that advice.

Hall of Shame Candidate #1
Hi, this is Ken with Hopeless Inc. We purchase used office telephone equipment and PC's. Our number is 214.555.1212. If you've recently switched systems or plan to in the near future please give us a call at 214.555.1212.

"Not much of a compelling reason to return this call," says Wackel. "What is the potential value in doing business with Hopeless Inc.? It looks like the classic numbers game - make enough calls and eventually you find someone who has just "switched systems" and wants to get rid of the junk sitting in the closet."

Hall of Shame Candidate #2
Good morning Kim, this is Barbie with Clueless. We produce the business to business database called Insight Online. I'm following up on your email inquiry to see if you have any questions about our product. Please give me a call at your convenience. My number is 888.555.1212 extension 1234.

"Well for starters my name isn't Kim," says Wackel. "Yes, I did make an inquiry, and I'm pretty confident that I didn't misspell my name on their form. Barbie says she wants to see if I have any questions on their product. Maybe it's just me, but if I had a question I'm thinking I would pick up the phone and call them. What if Barbie was calling because she had ideas on how Insight Online has helped other sales speakers improve their business? Think I would return that call? You better believe it!"

So what does it take to craft a better voice mail message? How can you improve your odds of getting a call back? Here are five questions from Wackel that will help you start creating better messages now:

1. Who is your target market?
Specifically, what is the title of the decision maker you want to do business with? And, if you are leaving a message for me, I want to hear that you work with professional sales trainers and speakers. I'm not interested in a one-size-fits-all approach. I'm interested in talking with someone who knows something about what I do (that's why it's called research!).

2. What are some of the specific challenges that you solve?
What are some opportunities that you help create? Be as specific as possible. This is the classic pains and gains stuff. Re-visit these ideas often.

3. What emotions (frustration, disappointment, concern, optimism, hope) does your target market experience with the challenges and opportunities you outlined above?
Remember that emotion plays a big part in buying decisions, yet most people sell using too much logic. Ever see someone driving a Lexus or wearing a Rolex? Help me understand the logic behind those buying decisions.

4. What are some of the competitive alternatives available to your target market?
Yeah, I hear you screaming "never bring up the competition!" Do you really believe your prospect is only going to consider you without checking out someone else? Think again! And remember, doing nothing is a competitive alternative.

5. Why, based on all of the alternatives available, should they do business with you?
What are your compelling differentiators? Be careful here, because most of you are thinking "great products, awesome service, solid reputation and a competitive price." If most of you are thinking this, then it really isn't a compelling differentiator is it?

Fill in the blanks, read, revise, get feedback from your peers and you will have crafted a message that is purposeful, powerful and on target.

"I specialize in helping (target market) who are (feelings/emotions) with (specific challenges) and want proven solutions for (your specific benefits). (Quantify number or use names) of clients have already discovered that unlike (competitive alternative), my solution is/does (compelling differentiator).

My goal is not to make a sales call on you, but if these issues sound familiar and the benefits are important to you, then it might be worth ten min
utes for us to have a brief fact finding conversation."

Add this to your arsenal of scripts and you'll be getting callbacks in no time.

Tim Wackel is the founder of The Wackel Group, a training and consulting firm dedicated to helping anyone involved in the complex sale. His insightful programs are engaging and focused on providing real world success strategies that audiences can implement right away. Learn more at www.TimWackel.com
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enthusiasm Sells

Enthusiasm is often seen as a double-edged sword in sales. Go too far, and people may think you're playing with them, on a sugar high, or simply pushing too hard. Too little, and they'll be asleep in five minutes.

When it comes to enthusiasm, it's best to be genuine - people will see your pride in your service, and respect what you have to tell them. This story from Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, is a great reminder to show your prospect how much you believe in your product, which, in turn, shows them why they should believe in you.

"One day I was having my Volvo serviced and as I was waiting for it to be brought out, I wandered onto the new car showroom. There on the floor was a Special S60 R - their Rally version and it looked pretty sweet. As I sat in it, someone came up and asked me what I thought and I said, "It's OK."

I asked him if he was one of the sales reps, and he said he was new to sales having worked for the Volvo factory for the last 10 years. He then asked me how much I knew about the car. "Not much," was my answer.

And that's when he began. Jim seemed to change as he began to tell me what a phenomenal car the R series was. Did I know that the brakes alone were of racing pedigree and the best brakes Volvo ever made? And that they were only found on the Rally model?

Did I know about the torque of the engine and that the Rally had the only hand made engine Volvo ever produced?

On and on he went, covering each part of the car from the racing bucket seats, down to the hand stitched leather. And the price! My God! This was the best value, dollar for dollar, of any car on the market, period, he told me.

And the performance! Would I like to take a test drive? "Heck yeah!" I heard myself saying.

Well, as I drove the car - and boy was it fun - Jim talked even more about how great this car was. I soon found that I was completely caught up in his enthusiasm, and before I knew it, I was back on the dealership talking prices, payments, and delivery terms!

I ended up getting away with an "I need to think about it," but I've got to tell you, that car, and Jim's enthusiasm for it, sticks with me today. Had I actually been shopping for a new car, I would have bought it - and been happy I did!

"What this reminded me of is how important your belief in your product or service is," says Brooks. "Enthusiasm really IS contagious, and many times your customers buy your belief in your product as well as the product itself."

"So your assignment this week is to ask yourself, "How can you inject genuine enthusiasm into your presentation?" Ask yourself why you chose to work at your company and what part of your product or service you're particularly proud or excited about. Once you've identified these things, be enthusiastic about them, and let your prospects and customers know why you are there. And why they should be, too."

And before you go into your next presentation, ask yourself, "Would I buy from me today?"

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, specializes in helping sales reps avoid rejection and make more money. Check out his free ezine at http://www.mrinsidesales.com/ezine.htm
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Nightmare of "Office-Speak"

"Going forward, we will pre-prepare and assess any challenges with intense granularity so as to leverage all of our resources and present you with the best scenario."

That line of mumbo jumbo was inspired by a BBC article in which readers submitted examples of office-speak "you love to hate." These mind-numbing examples have become so commonplace, they've even got Bingo playing cards you can use at your next meeting.

Here are a couple of our favorites:

"The business speak that I abhor is pre-prepare and forward planning. Is there any other kind of preparedness or planning?"

"The latest that's stuck in my head is we are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline (ie: we actually haven't sold anything to anyone yet but maybe we will one day)."

It's not just the most self-important among us who suffer from this linguistic disease - it seems to have broken out in the sales force at large. If you don't believe me, take a meeting with yourself - tape record your side of your next phone call with a prospect. I suspect you'll find some "office speak" lurking. Or, try this: practice your next sales presentation with a friend or colleague and ask them to write down each offensive phrase. I think you'll be surprised by their tally.

Going forward we hope that you'll be able to pre-plan your sales conversations so as to consolidate your gains in this space and realize 110% of your goals. Just kidding!
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

C.O.W. Questioning Strategy

"There's no such thing as a stupid question."

How many times did your parents and teachers tell you that growing up?

I absolutely believe in the importance of questions - especially when you don't understand something - but there's a time and a place for everything. Peppering a busy CEO with questions while they're rushing out the door for a meeting? Not a good idea. Asking questions during a presentation to feel out what the CEO wants from your solution? Good idea.

"Insightful, well-researched, finely tuned questions can establish your credibility and earn the customer's trust," agrees sales trainer Daniel Adams. "The goal is to listen to the customer instead of launching into reasons why the customer should buy. Great questioning - which provides key information needed to qualify, set strategy, and gain credibility - requires research, preparation and great listening skills."

"Questions can also kill - if they're the wrong ones or at the wrong time," says Adams. "Asking too many questions, or asking questions that reveal you have not researched the company can decrease your credibility. Only ask questions that demonstrate you have done your homework and you know something about the customer's business."

For these reasons, Adams has put together the C.O.W. questioning strategy to help you remember the best way to use questions to further the sale:

C - questions about their current situation (e.g., "What do you like about your current situation? What do you dislike?)

O - questions about their optimal situation (e.g., "In a perfect world, if you could design your own solution for your needs and challenges with unlimited funds, what would that situation look like?")

W - questions about the win that the proposed solution would provide for the corporation (e.g., "How does your company or department win if the optimal state is realized?") or for the individual customer (e.g., "Assuming that these needs and challenges are solved, how would things change for you personally?")

"These personal impact questions are the most powerful;" says Adams, "they provide valuable insights about the customer that can be continually referenced and leveraged throughout the sales process."

"Simply by showing that you have done your homework and by asking powerful and insightful questions, you will begin to understand your customer's world and gain her confidence. You are well on your way to establishing the one crucial element - TRUST!"

Daniel Adams, author of Building Trust, Growing Sales, and creator of Trust Triangle Selling, helps corporations improve their profits by optimizing the performance of their sales teams. He is a frequent and popular speaker at national sales meetings, workshops and association events. To learn more, visit Daniel's website at www.trusttriangleselling.com

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Quote of the Week

"All lasting business is built on friendship." -- Alfred A. Montapert

They had us at "Woof."

It was a little after lunch; that time of the day when our eyes start glazing over. Just as we were nodding off, a mysterious package arrived. Inside were four gourmet chocolate chunk brownies and a friendly note from Abby, the Follow-Up Dog who, we quickly learned, was pitching her services to us. We scarfed the brownies and, floating on a chocolate-induced high, checked out Abby's website, FollowUpDog.com. Abby's owners, we learned, will send your clients and prospects a personalized card from you - you can even include those mood altering brownies or other treats - and it takes you less than a minute. It's a very memorable way to stay in contact with clients or break the ice with hard-to-reach prospects. I know they certainly got out attention. Check 'em out here.
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Four Ways to Avoid the Gas Station and Still Make the Sale

With gas prices in the U.S. hitting all-time highs and continuing to climb, it seems like each time you get in you get in your car you can actually feel you wallet getting lighter. I know I do!

The rising gas prices are a burden for all, particularly sales professionals who travel to meet with clients and close the deal. You can't exactly stop seeing customers, so what do you do to maintain your income without the cost of gas taking a huge chunk of your paycheck?

"There is good news," says Jeb Blount, author of PowerPriniciples. "The silver lining to the fuel crisis is the high cost of fuel is teaching us to use our resources wisely, to plan better, and to become more efficient and effective with out most precious resource, our time."

"Driving around for a weekend showing houses to a client only to find out that they can't qualify for a loan is too expensive," continues Blount. "Driving two hours to meet with a customer who is a no-show is no longer acceptable. Making a call on one side of your territory and then driving to the other side of your territory to close a "sure thing" isn't worth filling up for twice a day. Setting appointments with prospects who are not in the buying window costs too much. And jumping through hoops for low margin customers has become intolerable."

Four PowerPrinciples for using precious resources wisely:

Qualify the Ability to Buy: One of my mentors taught me to only spend time with prospects and customers who have "the ability to buy." He said you must be willing to ask the right questions up front to make sure that you are spending your time with the right people and the right companies at the right time. Ask the hard questions first, then spend your gas money.

Territory Planning: Few things are more inefficient and expensive than driving (or flying) from one side of your territory to another. One of the sure fire ways to maximize your income is to develop a territory plan and stick to it. First grid your territory by geography and day of the week. Next, only set appointments in each geographic grid on the days you will be there. Finally, schedule all other activities around those appointments in that area of your territory.

Technology: Use technology to reduce drive time. There are dozens of new services on the market that allow you to spend time with your customers without being face to face. From video conferencing to webinars, you can complete many of your sales process tasks without ever leaving your office.

Prioritize: You can only do so many things in a day. You can choose to spend your time (and gas money) on high value tasks that make you money or low value tasks that waste your resources. The most successful people and top sales professionals take 10-15 minutes every evening to make a list of the top three to five tasks that must be accomplished the next day. This process ensures that when they wake up the next morning they are focused, energized, and using all of their resources wisely.

Jeb Blount, author of PowerPrinciples and CEO of Sales Gravy, has over 20 years experience in sales and marketing. Jeb is a sought after seminar leader and keynote speaker known for his ability to inspire his audiences to action. Learn more by visiting his profile at www.salesgravy.com
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fixin' to Prospect

Last week we ran an article from Paul McCord in which he described Rachel, a young salesperson who was always busy, yet never really connected with prospects. McCord recently revisited the story to explain what he suggested Rachel do to fix her prospecting problem and kick start her sales.

"Rachel's problem is one well known to us Texans," says McCord. "In the vernacular of Texas, she had a "fixin'" problem. We Texans spend a great deal of time "fixin' to." We're always fixin' to prospect, fixin' to eat, or fixin' to take a shower. We're so involved with fixin' you'd think we never actually do anything. Rachel was always fixin' to prospect and seldom actually engaged in prospecting. The solution was to change her focus from fixin' to doin'."

McCord's three new prospecting activities for Rachel:

1. Calling
Her company's primary prospecting method is cold calling. She had a list of several hundred names to call of which she had made contact with very few. Her first task each day was to speak with a minimum of 15 individuals. That in itself is a big task. She may have to make 100 to 150 dials to connect with and speak to 15 prospects. If she makes 20 dials an hour, she could be on the phone 5 to 7 hours a day.

2. Networking
Rachel loves to network, but she had been spending her time at networking events that by their very nature presented limited opportunities. She attended three or four networking events a month held by various local chambers and she also attended two networking breakfast groups. During her 8 months of selling, she had made contact with less than a dozen quality prospects and had acquired none as clients.

Rachel was encouraged to change her networking focus from chambers and breakfast groups to organizations where a large number of prime prospects would gather - the associations of various industries.

3. Speaking
Rachel has developed a presentation about financial independence for women and is beginning to book presentations at various business, industry and women's organizations in town. The presentation is educational, not a sales pitch. Her goals are modest - get in front of and meet as many potential prospects as possible.

"Although Rachel and I have been working together for only three weeks or so, she has already tripled her monthly average of new prospect contacts," says McCord. "Her new secret weapon? She isn't fixin' to do anything any more - she's actually doin' prospecting now."

Author of "Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals," and "SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar," Paul McCord is president of McCord & Associates, a sales training and management-consulting firm.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why Should I Buy From You?

Today is the final installment in our mini-series, "Why should I buy from you?" We've already covered two ways you can respond to this question when it is asked early on in the sales process. 1.) Respond by telling the truth and 2.) developing a great commercial. Here's the third strategy from Colleen Stanley: redirect - nicely.

"Redirecting is an influence skill that's often abused because the salesperson answers a question with a question without proper intent," says Stanley. "Redirecting a question with proper intent means seeking to understand the prospect's position. Many of us assign our own assumptions to a statement, question or word. 'Why should I buy from you?' is not the real question. Redirect to understand."

Example:
"That's a fair question and I could give you a pat answer like we are bigger, better and faster. I think what's most important is discussing what you look for when partnering with a new vendor. Tell me about some of your best partners and what makes them so good."

"The salesperson's intent is to understand the question behind the question," says Stanley. "Was this prospect burned by a company in the past? Are they unsure of how to make a right decision? Prospects will clarify and respond with key decision criteria, which opens the door for more and better questions."

Carefully prepare for questions like this, and you'll be that much closer to the sale.

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, and hiring/selection. Learn more at www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5 Steps to Overcoming the REAL Objection

In a perfect world when you're done with your presentation, the prospect says, "We'll take it!" signs a check, and sends you on your way. If only! Situations like this don't happen - and even if they do, the prospect almost always has some objections you have to overcome before they'll approve the sale.

What most people don't realize, according to sales trainer Rochelle Togo-Figa, is that "objections are a sign that the customer is interested, not the reverse." Unfortunately, many salespeople don't see it this way. "They're uncertain how to respond to the objection, so they come across unsure or end up giving away too much," says Togo-Figa.

Togo-Figa continues, "When an objection is raised, it's not necessarily a stop sign. The prospect may just be saying he or she has not been convinced yet and they want more information before making a buying decision."

Make sure you know what the real objection is, and then determine how you can prepare your response. Togo-Figa explains that often times objections like "I'm happy with my current vendor," "I want to think about it," or "Your price is too high" really mean "I don't have the money," "I think I can get a better deal elsewhere," or "I'm not impressed with your presentation." "Many times the prospect will not tell you the true objection, for fear of hurting your feelings," says Togo-Figa.

Here are 5 steps from Togo-Figa to uncover and overcome the REAL objections:

1. Listen carefully to the objection. Do you feel it is a valid objection or perhaps might be covering up the real objection? Try to find out by using this phrase: "Do you really mean..." or "Usually when a client tells me that, my experience has shown me they may have a concern about the price. Is that true for you?"

2. Get the prospect to commit to the objection. Reword the objection as a question. Example: "In other words, if price weren't an issue, would you be interested in working with me?" This gets the prospect to answer you directly and commit to the objection, so that you can begin to overcome it.

3. Determine whether it is the only stumbling block. Ask the prospect if the reason they've given is the only reason they're not doing business with you. Example: "If I could resolve this issue, are there any other issues standing in the way of our doing business?"

4. Answer the objection to resolve the issue and get agreement. Use everything you have in your sales toolbox to answer the prospect's objection. Show different cost options, prove benefits, present comparison charts, show testimonials, product knowledge, and believe in yourself.

5. Ask a closing question that confirms the sale. Make a non-pressuring statement that leads to the close. Example: "If I could..., would you be ready to go forward?" Or, "If I check with my office and it's a go, I'm assuming we have a deal. Is that right?" Using "if" when responding to an objection is a magical word. It takes the pressure off the prospect because you're not asking them to commit.

Rochelle Togo-Figa, the Sales Breakthrough Expert, is the creator of the Sales Breakthrough System. Visit her website at www.SalesBreakthroughs.com
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Email Checklist

Usually I reserve Monday blog posts for quotes that apply to selling, to give you something to think about for the week.

I still have something for you to think about this week, but instead of a quote it's something from a post on Seth Godin's blog. He put together a long checklist of things you should think about before hitting "send" on an email.

There are some good reminders, like asking yourself:


--Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it)

--Could this email be shorter?

--Am I angry? (If so, save as a draft and come back to the note in one hour)

But here's the kicker you should keep in mind this week:

If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email would I?

With the overload of email we're subjected to each day, this is an excellent reminder to keep your communication to that which is necessary, pertinent, and important. Your customers will thank you.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Prison Break: Escaping from Voicemail Jail

All modern technology has its good aspects and its bad aspects - and none more than voicemail. Just ask the harried CEO with 34 messages after lunch, the inside sales rep who never gets to talk with anyone, or sales trainer Colleen Francis.

"We love voicemail because it lets us ignore calls we don't want to take, or prepare for calls we'd rather not take right now," says Francis. "We also hate it because it lets our prospects do the exact same thing - including ignoring calls from us! Like all business tools, voicemail can be a double-edged sword. If you know how to manage it, you'll never again have to blame voicemail for not closing enough business."

Here are Francis' tips to get out of voicemail jail free!

Never leave a voicemail message for someone who doesn't know you.
To the prospect, you're an anonymous caller. The chances of this stranger ever returning your call are, at best, about one or two percent! The only time you should ever leave a voicemail for a prospect is when you have been referred to them.

Voicemail should only be used as a last resort.
Too often, we give up as soon as voicemail kicks in on a call, either leaving a message (bad idea) or hanging up (better, but not great).

When in doubt, hit zero.
You owe it to yourself to try everything you can to either locate them, or at least find out something about them. One way to do this is to hit zero when a voicemail message kicks in. You'll likely get bounced to a receptionist, an executive assistant or a co-worker. Try asking the following question:

"I was hoping you could help me. I'm trying to reach Jane Smith, and her voicemail picked up. Do you know if she's in a meeting, or out for the rest of the day?"

Depending on the response you receive, you can then try one of the following strategies:

Strategy one:
Them: "She's in a meeting."
You: "Thanks for your help. Do you happen to know when she'll be available? Maybe it's best to call back then?"

Strategy two:
Them: "She's away today."
You: "Thanks for your help. Do you know if she will be back tomorrow?"

Strategy three:
If you speak to your prospect's personal assistant, ask if it's better to schedule a call in advance, and then have them set up a fifteen-minute appointment.

You can't make a sale if you don't talk to your prospect! Give these strategies a try, and let us know how you break out of voicemail jail.

Colleen Francis is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Sales and Marketing Management has ranked her one of the "5 most effective sales trainers in the market today." Subscribe to her online newsletter Engaging Ideas and you'll also receive 10 weeks of free sales tips.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

"But I'm Always Prospecting!"

I read a great post recently on Paul McCord's blog about how "busy" salespeople can be. This is the same guy who only reads email and answers phone calls at four specific times throughout the day (something I haven't been able to bring myself to do!), so I trust he knows what he's talking about when it comes to productivity.

Here's his story:

"But I'm always prospecting." That was Rachel's response when we began talking about her failure to generate enough business to make the cut with her broker/dealer. Rachel is a relatively new salesperson who has been struggling for months and she and her manager have been trying to find a way to get her on track.

It didn't take long for the conversation to get around to her activities, in particular her prospecting activities. She was baffled by her lack of success because as she said, she was 'always prospecting.'

Rachel showed me a list of several hundred names and phone numbers she had on a call list - a few dozen had check marks beside them, even fewer were scratched through. She showed me the stacks of fliers and letters she had mailed out. She showed me a list of networking events she had attended over the past couple of months. She showed me a passel of follow-up emails she had sent out. She told me that her business card had been added to every corkboard in every restaurant, laundromat, and other business that had a board to display customers' cards.

Rachel had been busy; there was no doubt about that. The problem was although she had been busy, she hadn't been prospecting. In reality she was finding ways not to prospect. She engaged in a great deal of activity, but the activity she engaged in wasn't the activity that would produce business; instead, it was the activity that made her feel good, made her feel productive, allowed her to convince herself that she was being extremely active.

We salespeople tend to focus on activity - after all, activity is what gets us in the door, gets us the business we must have in order to succeed. But activity alone is fruitless. Activity for activity's sake is just as sure a way to failure as inactivity.

Investing time and energy in the wrong activities has killed as many sales careers as inactivity has. As salespeople we have three very basic duties - finding and connecting with quality prospects, working with those prospects to help them satisfy needs or wants, and insuring that they are taken care of during and after the sale. Everything else is busy work and busy work doesn't make a sale, doesn't generate income, and doesn't move us toward our sales or income goals.

Before you engage in any activity consider whether that activity is income producing or not. If it isn't directly producing income, does it really need to be done? If not, move on to an activity that will directly lead to a sale.

Author of "Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals," and "SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar," Paul McCord is president of McCord & Associates, a sales training and management-consulting firm.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to Sell the Higher-Priced Option

Telesales expert Art Sobczak finds sales lessons everywhere. Recently he wrote about a conversation he overheard in the computer aisle of an electronics store.

Customer: "What's the difference between the $400 model and the $675 version?"

Sales Rep: "Well, it has a few more features, but the $400 model does a pretty good job."

The customer agreed to get the $400 model, and the rep went to retrieve one from the back. While waiting, I overheard the customer say to his wife, "I probably would have gone for the $675 version, but I guess we don't need it."

This happens all the time.

According to Sobczak, "When you hear questions about the differences between lower and higher-priced versions of what you sell, what they're really saying is, 'I could buy the higher-end product/service, but I'm not yet convinced of the value. So help me understand why I should get it.'"

Here are the typical mistakes Sobczak sees reps make in this situation, and what you should do instead:

Mistake: Gagging out a data-dump explanation
Just like at any point in the sales process, if you present data without knowing what, specifically, they would or could be interested in, it could cause their eyes to glaze over. Worse, you might provide fodder for an objection.

Mistake: Downplaying the higher-priced option
For fear of losing any type of sale, some reps play up the lower-priced option while not knowing anything about the prospect's situation. They make an assumption that the person won't buy higher. This assumption takes money out of the rep's pocket.

"Again, keep in mind that when they ask about the higher-priced item they could be saying, 'I can be sold on the higher-priced version...I just need to justify it,'" says Sobczak. "Your first response should not be presenting. Instead, question. Focus questions on uncovering reasons why the top-of-the-line version delivers more value, to determine if that's what they need or want."

For example, "Well, the Deluxe Option has a few nice extras that might be a good fit for you. Let's find out. Tell me, do you ever run into situations where you have to manually extract the additional data you need from your database? I see. Well, this version does that for you. And, how about situations where..."

Or, "I'll be happy to explain. So I can make my comments most relevant, please tell me, how do you plan on using the system?"

"There are many more sales reps who sell on low price than there are buyers who will buy strictly because of price," says Sobczak. "Find out what they need, and everyone wins."

Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople - both inside and outside - designing and delivering content-rich programs that begin showing results from the very next time participants get on the phone. Learn more at www.businessbyphone.com

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Night the Lights Went Out

Many of you emailed us saying you couldn't access your free copy of Selling Power's 9 Recession Busting Strategies. Turns out, their server crashed because of a major power outage caused by a storm in Virginia. Blame Mother Nature, not SalesDog!

If you missed it, you can get it now, click here.
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Monday, June 9, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Tough times never last; tough people do." -- Robert Schuller

Keep this quote in mind during the tough selling times ahead.
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Why Should I Buy From You?

Last week we gave you one strategy to try when a prospect asks early on in the sales process, "Why should I buy from you?" Today sales trainer Colleen Stanley is back with another idea to help you understand, assess, and respond to this question.

Stanley suggests you "respond with a compelling '30 second commercial.' An age old saying in sales says, 'No one cares about what you do, they only care about problems you solve.' Most people talk in 'do' language, such as 'We do financial planning,' 'We do heating and air conditioning,' or 'We do lending.' A good '30 second commercial' talks about problems you solve."

Example:
Companies who buy from us are tired of turnover on the sales team, not sure how to sell value versus price, or are experiencing long buy cycles affecting cash flow.

"A well-crafted '30 second commercial' reminds the prospect of their pain or missed opportunities," says Stanley. "If the prospect isn't experiencing pain or desiring gain, it's going to be a short sales meeting...and that's okay. Keep your sales pipeline pure by filling it only with prospects who want to improve or need to solve an issue."

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, and hiring/selection. Learn more at www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why accept "No" from someone who can't say "Yes"?

In the ideal selling situation you deal with the true decision-maker, or economic buyer. This is the person who can approve your proposal without having to get permission from anyone else. Of course, we call it the ideal situation, because it often doesn't happen that way.

"While it would be nice if we only had to call on the economic buyer, we must deal with people in all levels and departments of our customer's organization,"says sales trainer Andrew Sharp with Sales Concepts. "To increase the chances of winning an order one must deal with all of the various influences within an account. These people's risks, both real and perceived, must be discovered, addressed, and resolved."

According to Sharp, "the people of customer organizations can be dissected into four categories: Users, Technical Influences, Coaches and Economic Buyers. This holds true for large corporations, small businesses, educational institutions or the government." Here are the four people categories and how he advises you reduce both their real and perceived risks:

User: The person(s) who will directly use your product or service
To reduce their risks discuss and demonstrate training, safety, convenience, ease of use, error correction, time savings, and technical support. Show how you and your company will support them on a daily basis.

Technical Influence: The person(s) who will evaluate your product or service based upon their area of expertise
They may include engineers, technical specialists, general counsel, purchasing and other specialists. To reduce their risks present data, specifications, white papers, performance benchmarks, research, studies, charts, graphs, testing procedures, logistics, contracts, pricing, etc. Make sure all questions have been answered.

Economic Buyer: The person who can say "Yes" to spending money on your product, service or solution without getting anyone else's permission
They are usually found in the management or executive levels within organizations. To reduce their perceived risk cover cost of ownership, return on investment, cost justification, alignment with their corporate objectives, payback, etc. Deliver a strong business case.

Coach: Anyone who will provide information about the customer or project
They can be anyone and can be found anywhere. By definition they generally want to see you win. Their risk is that you don't win, so heed their advice.

Sales Concepts provides experiential sales training and learning services for people who work in sales, management, customer support, and field service, contributing to the growth and development of these professionals and the companies they represent. Learn more at www.salesconcepts.com

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jigsaw Throws Open the Door on Prospect Data

Today Jigsaw launches the Open Data Initiative - a fast, easy and free way for you to download thousands of company records in just seconds.

What does this mean for you? You'll spend less time searching the Internet for company data, and more time contacting qualified prospects. Plus, you can upload the records into your CRM solution leaving you even more time to sell.

I've been tooling around on the site in advance of the launch and I can tell you it's definitely worth your time to check it out. I think you'll appreciate the "Advanced Options" search capabilities in the Find Companies and Find Contacts functions. You can select by metro area, area code, zip code, industry, employee size, revenue and more. It's very interesting. Click here to learn more.

Remember, when you sign up for Jigsaw you'll have access to over 8 million business contacts - making it easier for you to reach the decision-makers at these companies.

Check out Jigsaw's Open Data Initiative here.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A World Record Handshake

San Franciscans Kevin Whittaker and Cory Jens recently set a new handshaking world record of 9.5 hours, beating the previous record set by two Germans by a half hour.

The two practiced shaking hands, and developed a couple of techniques - "one involves putting both your pinkies out, which allows an opening where air gets in and cools you off. The other is that one of us shakes and does all the work, while the other one relaxes," said Whittaker.

Thankfully for Whittaker and Jens, the Guinness Book of World Records only requires the record-setters to keep their hands moving up and down the whole time. In business, the art of handshaking is much more involved.

You need to convey confidence, warmth and honesty while shaking hands with your prospect, says SalesDog.com publisher Michael Dalton Johnson. While you may not break any world records with your handshake, when properly executed, you will create a good impression. Here are a few of Johnson's tips for a winning handshake:
  • Avoid the power grip. A handshake should be firm, but not overly forceful. Beware of the unconscious tendency to pull the other person toward you as you shake. This can be interpreted as aggressive, and the prospect's resistance to you will go up a notch or two.
  • Look 'em in the eye. As you extend your hand, establish eye contact and smile. Show some teeth! A warm and sincere greeting can make you an instant friend - and all things being equal, people prefer to buy from friends.
  • Get a grip. Never grasp the other person's fingers. Take their entire hand completely in yours, and gently pump it two or three times.
  • What to say? No handshake is complete without a spoken greeting. You can't go wrong with, "It's a pleasure to meet you." When meeting someone of high rank, such as the chairman of the board or founder of a company, you may want to up the ante with, "It's a great pleasure to meet you." After the initial greeting, your conversation should begin while you are still shaking hands, for example, "John tells me you've made some significant additions to your product line." Your hand should be slowly and somewhat reluctantly withdrawn as the person begins to speak. This slow withdrawal indicates your keen interest in the person and what he is saying.
Michael Dalton Johnson is the publisher of SalesDog.com and editor of Top Dog Sales Secrets.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Quote of the Week

"No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you're having a tough time selling, it's easy to blame the economy, your manager, your company, your product line, your dog - in short, anything and anyone but yourself. Yet, ultimately you are the only person who can be held accountable for your results.

If your company isn't providing the training you need, instead of complaining, purchase some training books or invest in a seminar to hone your skills.

If the economy is affecting your company's revenues, do some research on new companies to prospect, new ways to market yourself and new ways to position your products.

You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change how you respond to it.

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