Friday, May 29, 2009

Fishing for Business

Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity. Read this story from sales expert Anne Miller, as well as her thoughts on how you can apply the same creativity in your sales, and you'll be luring in the big fish in no time.

A young man from Texas moves to California and goes to a large department store for a job.

Manager says: "Have any sales experience?"

Fellow replies: "Yes, I sold some back home."

Manager liked him, hired him, and said, "You start tomorrow. I'll come down at the end of the day to see how you did."

The new hire's day was rough, but he got through it. The sales manager came down as promised at the end of the day.

"How many sales did you make?" he asked.

"One," said the new hire.

"Just one?" Said the manager. "How much was it?"

New hire said, "$101,237.74."

Manager said, "$101,237.74! What did you sell?"

The new hire said, "First, I sold him a small fish hook. Then I sold him a medium fish hook. Then I sold him a larger fish hook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat. So we went down to the boat department and I sold him that twin engine Chris Craft. Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the auto department and sold him that 4X4 Blazer."

The manager said, "A guy came in here today to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and truck?"

The new hire said, "No, he came in here to buy medicine for his wife who had the beginnings of a two-day migraine, and I said, 'Well, since your weekend's shot, you might as well go fishing."

Turning "Migraines" Into Opportunities

I love this story for what it reminds us as salespeople to do: listen to the client and come up with bigger and more creative solutions than the client ever thought of to deal with his current problem. Times may be difficult but clients still have needs and therein are your opportunities.

Find those opportunities by asking these seven questions:

1. What issues are you facing today?
2. What are these costing you (in revenue, ROI, market share, efficiencies, productivity, morale, turnover, other?)
3. What is the urgency to resolve these?
4. What will happen if no action is taken?
5. Who has to get involved to take necessary actions to address these issues?
6. What options are you looking at? Why?
7. What would be most useful to you now?

With the answers to these questions as context, you are in a very good position to figure out what you can offer to be of real value to them now that they most likely have not yet considered.

Anne Miller is a popular sales and presentations expert and author of the book, Metaphorically Selling: How to Use the Magic of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, & Explain Anything to Anyone. Her free newsletter is available at www.AnneMiller.com

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cold Calling 101 - Preparation is Key

While many people think the call itself is the most important aspect of a cold call, sales trainer Dr. Drew Stevens thinks there's a lot more to it - and we'd have to agree. He's outlined a few of the things you must do before picking up the phone to make a cold call. Not being prepared will leave you with little success. Prepare for success, and you'll achieve it.

1. Call Preparation
Call preparation is the single most imperative idea about cold calling. Before you make a call, you should understand the client, the industry, and perhaps any competitive issues. Never call a client without premise.

Since your mission is to establish a relationship, you need to consider whom you will call and your call motive. Names of those to call can be purchased through database management systems, or obtained through referrals or reading industry periodicals.

2. Competitive Analysis
Once you obtain the required company information, it's time to conduct your competitive analysis. Useful information related to prospective competitors to the buyer is helpful in understanding industry issues affecting the client. A sincere understanding of client issues assists in promoting a stronger relationship.

3. Value Proposition not Elevator Speech
The proliferation of the Internet has made it easier for prospective clients to gain information on you, and with so many competitive players, detailing your services to clients begins to sound ubiquitous to them. Heard one, heard them all as the cliche goes.

Organizations today require focus on two complicated issues: productivity and profitability. Your mission is to create a succinct message that addresses these concerns. In other words, you need to depict your value and outcomes in a succinct method so that prospective clients understand your differentiation.

So, there you go. Research and create a way to differentiate yourself before the call, and your day will be much more successful.

Drew Stevens PhD knows how to dramatically accelerate your business growth. Known as "The Sales Strategist" Drew Stevens has 25 years of domestic and international sales and marketing experience. Learn more at http://www.stevensconsultinggroup.com

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Get the Stuck Sale Moving - Part 2

Yesterday Paul Cherry gave us some practical tips for dealing with a stalled sale. His advice will help you weed out potential buyers from the time-wasters and advance the sale. Here's his step-by-step advice for handling these common stalls.

2. "I need to talk it over with..."

You can take a similar approach with stalling questions such as "We need to discuss this," or "I need to think it over."

Agree:
"Of course. I'm happy to hear you're taking that step. When would be a good time for me to follow up with you?"

Clarify: For "talk it over" prospects, the most important clarifying question is, "Is this something you're willing to recommend to ____?" If the answer is anything less than an enthusiastic yes, you need to be careful. Is this the person you want to act as your representative within the company? Try to understand any objections or suggest a joint meeting.

Legitimize: "Assuming for a minute that you're meeting with your boss (board, team leader, etc.), what will you be sharing with him?" Be careful how you ask these questions. The idea isn't to push prospects into advocating for you, but to find out how they feel. You might, for example, preface your questions by saying, "Just so I can be sure I've given you everything you need, let me ask you..."

3. "Call me back in three months"

Agree: Make sure that you agree to set a specific time for your return call. This increases the odds that you'll actually reach the person when you call.

Clarify and legitimize: You can often combine these two steps. "So that I can be prepared for my next call to you, can you tell me what will be occurring between now and then?" In other words, find out why the prospect thinks the discussion will be more relevant in three months as opposed to today. If he can't give you a good answer - or won't commit to a specific time for the call - chances are he's simply putting you off.

Paul Cherry, President and CEO, Performance Based Results has 20 years experience as a sales training consultant with an emphasis placed on sales training, leadership development, sales coaching and leadership coaching. Visit his website at: www.PBResults.com.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Get the Stuck Sale Moving

Welcome back! We hope you enjoyed the long weekend! Over the next two days sales trainer and author Paul Cherry will share some advice and concrete examples on how to move a stuck sale forward. If you encounter these put-offs while selling (and really, who doesn't?) then you'll be grateful for these tips on how to move past them towards the sale.

"Fence-sitters can take up inordinate amounts of your time and energy, often with little to show at the end," says Cherry. "The problem is some of the best customers are also slow to decide - especially in the relationship's initial stages. So how can you sort out the real opportunities from the dead-enders? Try the following three-step approach to get the sales process moving - or figure out whether it's time for you to move on."

Agree Clarify and Legitimize

First you agree with the prospect, then you ask for clarification, and finally, you ask a question designed to uncover whether there's a legitimate sales opportunity for you. The questions are respectful. The entire process takes only a few minutes, and it can save considerable wheel-spinning - for you and the prospect.

Here's one scenario showing how it works - we'll focus on two more tomorrow:

1. "Send me more information"

It's hard to know what prospects mean when they tell you this. Some salespeople regard it as a guaranteed blow-off, but real prospects will often start here as well. The only way to find out is to ask!

Agree: "I'd be glad to send you information."

Clarify: "So that I get you the right information, what specifically are you looking for?" If the prospect answers using action-oriented words, there's a good chance this is a genuine opportunity: "We're looking to achieve ... fix ... solve ... avoid ... improve...." These words suggest that the prospect has already identified his or her problems and accepted that change is necessary. If the prospect says, "Send me whatever you have," it's not a real opportunity. Time to move on.

Legitimize:
Project your prospect into the future so that she can walk you through the decision-making process; for example: "You'll receive the information by Monday. Assuming you'll need some time to look it over, when should I call back to follow up?" Once you have a time frame established, continue: "And assuming you've reviewed the information and like what you see, what do you feel would happen next?" The prospect's answer will give you a clear sense of whether the opportunity is worth investing in.

Paul Cherry, President and CEO, Performance Based Results has 20 years experience as a sales training consultant with an emphasis placed on sales training, leadership development, sales coaching and leadership coaching. Visit his website at: www.PBResults.com.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Recognizing Buying Signals

If you're new to sales, or just looking for a refresher course, this advice from sales trainer Colleen Francis is important to remember. A reader recently asked her how to recognize buying signals - something we all should be able to do! Read on to make sure you're ready to recognize, and capitalize, on buying signals.

"Listening to the client and recognizing buying signals as your opportunity to close will help you get more deals done more quickly," says Francis. "To do this effectively you will need to know the signals and the appropriate responses."

Here are some common statements / signals your client may make during the sales presentation or process:

Signal: "I could likely have a few people help me with that."
Response: "Great. Do you have their names now?"

Signal: "That would work well with my plans to..."
Response: "Tell me how."

Note: Although this doesn't go for the close directly it helps them reinforce the benefits, and puts them in a position where they are visualizing ownership even more.

Signal: "Mary would be the lady who would help you with the paperwork..."
Response: "Good. Tell me a little about Mary. May I have her contact information?"

Note: We want to get them involved in discussing and planning the details of the next step (meaning the sale). Also, by getting others involved, of course they're deep into the transaction.

Possible Buying Signal: They relate an experience with a competitor, or a similar type of product or even if it was negative. "I talked to another consultant once about this program and didn't have a great experience."

Response: "Oh? What happened?"

Note: This could mean that they're open to your service, and are hesitant because they were burned before and need to be assured that you are different. You need to get the details first. Dig deep. Keep them talking. The more you have, the more you're able to deal with reasons, not symptoms.

"Your job is to keep the conversations moving towards the sale," says Francis. "In other words: ask questions!"

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. Learn more at www.EngageSelling.com

The SalesDog blog will be quiet on Monday as we take the day off to spend time with our families and remember those that have served our country. We'll see you on Tuesday!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Power Words for Selling

While there may not be any magic words you can use to close a sale, there are certainly words that can help you move in the right direction. Tim Smith recently wrote about some of these words on the Brooks Group blog. Read Smith's list of power words and let us know if you have any of your own!

"I have found that there are three words that "when used properly" carry tremendous influence, no matter what the situation, regardless of the industry and irrespective of the type of person you are meeting with," says Smith. They are:

Because

This is probably the most powerful word you can use. From an early age, we have been programmed to accept this triggering word "because". Remember when you asked your parents why you couldn't do a certain thing and they responded, "Because I said so." Not the best answer, but we learn to accept it. The same is true as adults.

There has been direct research demonstrating this word alone is powerful enough to cause people to allow you an appointment, maintain your price and successfully negotiate. One study showed that people were willing to allow others to cut in line in front of them to make copies with the statement "I need to cut in line because I need to make some copies."

Recommend

This word is great for presenting your solution, but it can be used in many different areas depending on the situation. In my own sales consultations I often say, "Based on what you told me, I recommend..." or "I recommend we set up a time next week to review our solution." Whatever the situation, the word recommend positions you properly and allows you to be viewed as an expert endorsing valuable solutions, as opposed to just a product-pushing salesperson.

Instantly

When applied conservatively and accurately, the word instantly is excellent to use in your sales letters, marketing collateral, during a presentation or any other area that is appropriate. The reason it works is because we live in a society, which, to some extent, has conditioned many people to expect immediate results. We have microwaves, fast food, video-on-demand, drive thru oil change facilities, and up until recently, easy credit. We all expect instant gratification instead of waiting for long-term results or gain. Prospects and customers want to solve their problems instantly.

"I think we must always pay attention to the words we use and seek to understand why certain words work or do not work in the context of our day-to-day selling," says Smith. "I sincerely believe these words will help any salesperson sell more and secure more appointments."

The Brooks Group is a Sales and Sales Management Screening, Development, and Retention company that has helped more than 2,000 organizations in 500 industries transform their businesses by focusing on building and sustaining top-performing sales, sales management and business development programs. www.TheBrooksGroup.com

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hold Off on Handouts

Sales trainer Sam Manfer has been doing a series on his blog with specific tips for sales presentations and proposals. While some tips are more general, and some are very specific, this one about handouts struck me as advice we should all follow - but often don't.

"Handouts are usually a distraction during the presentation, but can be a good reminder for after the presentation," says Manfer. "During the presentation you want people focusing on you and what your team has to say. Handouts encourage them to be reading ahead and not listening. If handouts are an integral part of the discussion, then hand them out as they are needed. Highlighting areas you want them to focus on is helpful."

"An agenda is a good handout for the leader to give each person when he starts his schmoozing," continues Manfer. "It's a good excuse for the schmooze and it looks good as you cover everyone. The agenda can also have the names of your team members on it and their role / expertise / position."

"A parting handout loaded with pictures, numbers, names, and details can be valuable. You can also fill it with points of their interest - not yours. Make it sort of a mini summary in living color - sort of a brochure. Remember they already have a written proposal."

Since 1995 Sam Manfer has been speaking, consulting, writing and leading seminars in sales and personal development. As a keynote speaker and seminar leader Sam has addressed thousands of new and experienced sales people and managers all over the world in all types of businesses and industries. Learn more at www.sammanfer.com

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homegrown Sales Sources

If you've been trying to get in with a new prospect with no luck, the solution to your problem could be right inside your office. Referral expert Joanne Black shares what you need to know to tap into the sales leads within your own office.

"I am always amazed when my clients discover that a person in their San Francisco office has an ideal contact for their Atlanta, Prague, or Shanghai offices," says Black. "I was conducting a call with representatives from my client's Chicago, Portland, Toronto, and Los Angeles offices. One of the salespeople in Portland described a new client he was about to win. His counterpart in Los Angeles said they were doing business with that company in Southern California. The two decided to link up and work on a strategy together."

"It's time to think beyond yourself, your sales executives, and sales support as the only members of your team," continues Black. "Think beyond your immediate team, and beyond your geographic office. Think about the obvious: Think of everyone within your company or organization as a much-needed, ready-to-be-activated resource to grow your business - exponentially."

The Secret: Look Within
Salespeople within your company have huge potential to help you expand your reach. They know people in your territory - in the companies you're targeting. Everyone, regardless of his or her role in the sales organization, is part of your sales team. Your employees and co-workers can help you tap into more industry knowledge. They may have insight into an organization's culture, structure, or politics - and may be a surprisingly valuable sounding board to discuss account strategy.

Your best resource for potential new business is all around you. Everyone in your organization knows dozens and maybe even hundreds of other people. Who do you think understands the value of your organization better than the people who work there? Who could possible have more invested in your company's success? Your job will be to bring everyone into the sales process. Start by finding out who they know. To do that, you need to help everyone in your organization understand that they are part of the sales team - whether they have an official sales title or not.

Where did your fellow employees work before they came to your company? Who is their next door neighbor? What about their brother who works at your prospect company? Spend the time to talk to them, learn about their history, and what is important to them. Help everyone to understand that with every sale, your company - their company - prospers and their job becomes more secure.

With over 30 years of sales training and consulting experience, Joanne Black's philosophy is that no one should ever have to make a cold call. Some may see this as heretical thinking, but for Joanne Black - and her clients - there is an alternative. It's called referral selling. Learn more at www.nomorecoldcalling.com

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill." -- Edward Appleton, Physicist

Last week we shared a wonderful story about a salesperson who was so enthusiastic about his product and selling that he sold over $1.5 billion worth of life insurance during his career. If you haven't read it yet, do so now - you'll be glad you did!

One of the things to take away from the story is the importance of enthusiasm in selling. Enthusiasm keeps you making phone calls and writing emails. It's also infectious. If helps prospects understand the reasons to buy - and encourages them to seal the deal.

If you're not feeling enthusiastic, try thinking about all the good your product can do for someone. Envision them using the product to make their life or work easier or save money. Then picture yourself receiving a large commission check. Feeling enthusiastic yet? Keep trying!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

SalesDog Quick Tip: "How much does it cost?"

How many times have you gone into a meeting with a complete presentation only to have your customer ask right off the bat "How much does it cost?" This question can throw you off guard when asked early on, especially when you sell complex goods or services. Sales trainer Al Uszynski has the quick tip you need to navigate this tricky situation:

Like many complex products it's hard to answer that question early in the sales dialogue. It's also not advantageous to discuss cost until you've had a chance to create more value in the customer's mind.

When faced with a premature cost question, try to defer it to later by saying something like, "I know that the amount you invest is very important to you. So that I may suggest the product variation that best suits your needs, may I ask you a few more questions?"

Al Uszynski is a results-focused sales trainer and professional speaker. His proven, quick-start sales training program, "15 Ways to Grow Your Sales Tomorrow" helps sales professionals ignite immediate sales growth. Learn more by visiting www.Uszynski.com

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Handling the Economy Objection Once and For All

The economy is a factor in everyone's business decisions these days - and if you're not addressing it right away with your prospects, then you're costing yourself time and money. Sales trainer Mike Brooks has some advice for you to work the topic into your conversations with prospects - so you can move on with them, or someone else who's ready to buy.

"Here's the bottom line: It's your responsibility to qualify out any economy, price, budget objections on the front end call so that these objections don't come up during the close," says Brooks. "If you're still getting these objections later on, it means you didn't "disqualify" out the non-buyers - which are what you're dealing with when you get this objection."

"It doesn't mean they aren't ever going to be buyers, it just means they aren't going to buy now. And you need to know that in the beginning and not send any information or demo out."

Here are some questions to ask to identify who will and who won't use the "We're just going to wait until the economy gets better" objection. During the qualifying call, make sure and ask any of the following questions by working them into your specific sale:

"A lot of companies are taking advantage of this (your product or service) now that the economy is slow - do you think the time is right for you, too?"

"Given what's happening in the economy right now, do you still see yourself (or your company) moving forward with this now?"

If they say they don't know, then layer it with:

"When do you think would be a more appropriate time for you?"

Also, ask:

"How are you doing in this economy?"

Layer:

"Are you still going to be able to participate in this if we can get you the (price, rate, deal) we're talking about here?"

Ask:

"__________, many of our clients find that this (your product or service) is still important regardless of what is happening in the economy - is it something that you still have in your budget?"

"The bottom line is that it's up to you to eliminate any budget objections before you get into the closing arena," says Brooks. "And you'll do this by asking these types of qualifying/disqualifying questions in advance. Start using them today and watch as your closing ratio goes up, and your frustration level goes down."

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, May 13, 2009

This Economy Demands Best Practices, Not Free Services!

Stories are going around how companies and suppliers of professionals are doing work for free to assist their clients in need. They rationalize this because business is slow and they want to keep their employees busy. They also want to be there for their clients.

That all sounds pretty good, but if you're doing this, sales trainer Ron Karr has a wake up call you need to hear to start making more money, now!

You want to be there for your clients? Become relevant!

The concept of doing free work has been used as a solid marketing strategy for years. Occasionally, I have given a free talk to certain groups as a marketing vehicle to generate new prospects sitting in the audience. And yes, in this down economy, we have helped clients by providing additional value for a nominal cost. But make no mistake about it, we still got paid for our work.

Once you give your services and products away for free, you immediately lose your value and you will never gain it all back.

This recession has changed the way the world does business. If you are doing no business or very little business, the market is talking to you. It is saying you either have to re-adjust your services to become relevant again or look for new markets who want what you have.

As a professional speaker and consultant, I am taking my materials and creating internet based venues to continue educating and advising my clients. The market is calling for this as companies have drastically reduced their travel and meeting budgets.

My messages are also being refined to be relevant to the needs of my market. And yes, I am marketing to industries that value my services and are willing to pay for them.

We all have a responsibility to reinvent ourselves and stay relevant to our markets. Only when we are relevant can we adequately serve our clients. We also have to maintain fiscal strength. It's the same as being a caregiver for a sick person.

You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself and stay strong.


Markets like Financials Services may be decimated. But they will come back. They may be re-aligned in terms of players. They certainly will be doing business differently. If you are working with any of these businesses, do yourself a favor and figure out how to stay relevant, prosper and grow. Your customers are counting on you.

If you simply use this time to ride out the storm, you will be weakened and when the recovery occurs, you will be bypassed by the competition.

Your employees have nothing to do? Have them develop solutions for your clients and make a living doing it. You owe it to yourself, your family, your employees and your clients.

Ron Karr is a professional speaker, consultant, trainer and author who specializes in helping organizations build and maintain high performing sales cultures. Visit him at www.RonKarr.com and sign up for his free Titan Sales E-Report.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Consummate Sales Professional

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to make it through the day, and this amazing true story is just that. I read about it in Jim Meisenheimer's newsletter - take a few minutes to read it and see it inspires you to bring some enthusiasm and creativity to your day!

Ben Feldman started selling life insurance just before World War II. The rest as they say is history. He almost single-handedly changed the insurance industry. And he was just a sales person - but what an incredible and extraordinary sales person he was.

It's been said that he didn't look like a salesman, didn't sound like a salesman, and didn't act like a salesman. Ben was different in every imaginable way. You should be too! If you want to succeed in sales you have to be different.

Here's some background on Ben Feldman. He was born to Russian, Jewish immigrants that settled in eastern Ohio. At his father's insistence he dropped out of school to sell eggs for $10 a week. After selling insurance to all his friends and relatives, he then targeted businesses in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Without going beyond a sixty-mile radius, he often sold more insurance in a day than most agents would sell in a year.

In the 1970's it was reported that he personally sold more insurance than 1,500 of the largest 1,800 life insurance companies. Imagine that - he single-handedly outsold 1,500 entire companies. During his lifetime, he sold insurance policies with a face value over $1.5 billion. One-third of it was sold after he turned sixty-five.

According to many, Ben wasn't ordinary - he was exceptional. Harry Hohn, Chairman of New York Life at the time said, "Ben really felt everyone in the world was underinsured." He believed passionately in his product and how it could help and benefit his customers.

You see, he was genuinely excited about his products which in turn got his sales prospects and customers fired up about his products too.

Ben knew how to really WOW his customers. His words were his craft. According to Rick Hampson, an AP writer, "He'd sit up late, crafting the pithy sayings that he called power phrases and rehearse them with a tape recorder." He knew perfection came from practice, not improvisation. And boy did he ever practice.

"He sold life insurance by talking about life, not death. People didn't die, they walked out, as in, when you walk out, the money walks in - the insurance money," according to Rick Hampson. Taped inside the front cover of his presentation binder were a $1,000 bill and several pennies. He would tell his customers, "For these," pointing to the pennies, "you can get this" - the bill.

In 1992, New York Life created an insurance selling contest they called "Feldman's February." The program was to commemorate his fifty years of selling life insurance. The national contest was of course in honor of Ben's history with the company.

Obviously no one told that to Ben. He viewed it as a challenge and won the contest himself. He was eighty years old and in a hospital recovering from a cerebral hemorrhage during the month of February. That February, he sold $15,150,000 worth of insurance from his hospital bed.

Ben had an incredible selling attitude. He never gave up.

Listen to some of Ben's phrases and how his words worked magic. Imagine hearing them as you consider making a decision to buy insurance.

"No one ever died with too much money."

"Do you know anyone who has a lease on life? It isn't a question of if; it's a question of when."

"Put me on your payroll. The day you walk out, I'll walk in and pay your bills."

"The key to a sale is an interview, and the key to an interview is a disturbing question."

"Most people buy not because they believe, but because the sales person believes."

For Ben, success wasn't fleeting - it was consistent. He loved his product. He loved his customers. He loved his company. He loved his work. Here's something for you to think about. If Ben Feldman sold for your company, how would he do it? How well would he do it?

Ben's gone now. His legacy, however, should serve as an inspiration to all that call sales a profession.

Jim Meisenheimer publishes The Start Selling More Newsletter, a fresh and high content newsletter dedicated to showing salespeople how to start selling more. To subscribe and receive a copy of his special report, The 12 Dumbest Things Salespeople Do, visit www.StartSellingMore.com.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Quote of the Week

"We are all, right now, living the life we choose." -- Peter McWilliams, Author

If you're feeling sorry for yourself because sales are slow or your pipeline isn't as full as it used to be, take this quote to heart. Even the smallest change can have an effect on your sales. One more phone call, one more email, attending a networking event, or handing out more business cards could be the extra thing that brings in a sale.

If you're not happy with your situation, do something to change it. You're the only one who can.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Networking is a Contact Sport

The rewards of networking are not things that come quickly or easily - but when the rewards do come in, they can make all the difference in you sales. That being said, what are you doing to get out there and network yourself and your business? Sales trainer Adrian Miller says networking is a contact sport, and I'd have to agree with her. Take her advice to make all your contacts effective.

"Networking is truly a contact sport that requires you to be proactive if you're going to win," explains Miller. "Are you guilty of taking a defensive networking strategy; waiting for others to contact you? If so, the following tips are well worth reading and following if you want to achieve any level of success from your efforts."

Ask How They Want to Be Contacted

Much of the reason why so many of us don't follow up after a networking event is that we simply don't know the best way to take that next step. Do you email, write a handwritten note, or give them a call? It can certainly be confusing, but there is an easy solution to this. At your next networking event, ask the individuals that you'd like to connect with again what the best method is to reach them. If they are vague, they probably don't want to pursue anything further. If they do tell you their preferred contact method, you can be confident about how to follow up, and most likely they'll be anticipating it, too!

Be Timely

Ok, you now have a stack of business cards, and the thought of contacting everyone can be overwhelming. But, you have to do it, so develop a plan of action. Separate your contacts into two groups - the group of individuals that you want to contact for a specific purpose and those who you simply met but have no specific reason to call. Call back the first group as soon as possible. Then, send a note or email to the others saying how pleased you were to meet them and that you are looking forward to seeing them again soon. Don't forget to add everyone's contact information into your database for future reference.

Be a Sleuth


Thanks to the Internet many of your contacts will have an online presence. Google their name and see what comes up. Then, befriend them on LinkedIn or Facebook. If they have a blog, write a comment and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them.

Focus On Giving

Instead of hoping that someone will contact you with a potential opportunity, make a list of who you met and how you can help them. Do you have a recommendation or a contact for someone? Great! Follow up with the information. If not, consider sending an article of interest, an invitation to an industry event, or even just a note or email that you'll keep your eyes open for possible opportunities.

Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's Your Hook?

Have you ever watched a preview for a movie and instantly decided whether or not you'll watch it when it comes out? I know I have! The same thing can happen with your prospects. "The best television shows, Hollywood blockbuster movies, and novels start with a great attention-getter. Something to quickly captivate people. In other words, a hook," says sales trainer Kelley Robertson.

"This is a highly relevant concept for salespeople," Robertson continues. "If you don't capture the attention of your prospect or customer immediately, then you will have to work that much harder to get the sale. Buyers and key decision-makers are extremely busy and they don't want to be forced to listen to irrelevant information. A good hook has nothing to do with your company, how long you have been in business, or what awards you have won."

"A hook is something that will cause your prospect to sit up and pay attention," explains Robertson. "It can demonstrate that you understand a current business challenge your prospect is facing. It should entice your prospect and cause them to want to hear more."

Here is an example:

"Mr. Prospect, research has shown that when two companies merge, overall productivity drops by as much as 28 percent. What have you experienced since you began your merger? Call me at 555-1234 and we can discuss ways to prevent this from occurring."

"In today's highly competitive business climate you need to stand out from the crowd so before you make your next sales call, determine your hook."

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

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Heat Up Your Cold Calls

I don't know many people who would say cold calling is one of their favorite things to do, but plenty of people make a great living from it. Sales trainer and telesales expert Renee Walkup is one of those people, and today she shares a story that will get you going - no matter how much you like or dislike cold calling.

Renee's story:

There I was, having coffee with a successful, seasoned business partner today, when he said, "You know, I have bad days sometimes. These are the days when I just don't feel like making cold calls. So do you know what I do?" Eagerly leaning forward in my chair, I looked him in the eyeball and asked, "What?"

Lee responded. "Well, for the last 7 years, I've been collecting script ideas. Stuff I've listened to on tapes. Books I've read. Speakers I've heard. In fact, I even have some stuff from when we first met when you were speaking at a Sales and Marketing Executives luncheon. I have compiled all the best ideas and have my own little black book of stuff to use. When I'm too tired, unmotivated, or just bored, I take the notes out and use them. After about 10 calls or so, I'm back on track. You know, it works!"

At this point, I got excited. Here is this highly motivated, successful person at the top of his profession, willingly admitting that he gets stuck sometimes. He uses his crutch sometimes. Someone who is dedicated to his profession and to his company. In short, a TRUE professional!

I mentioned to Lee that most people hate making cold calls. My theory is that since we were about 2 years old, our parents started drilling into us that we shouldn't talk to strangers. Now, we're in sales. What are we supposed to do? We HAVE to talk to strangers - in fact, sometimes the stranger, the better!

So, what do you do when you are tired of making cold calls? You can take a tip from Lee and use your "little black book" of scripts. You can sit down and write out your own scripts. How about reading an article? Or listening to a download on sales techniques? You can picture your greatest sale. But no matter what, get back on the phone!

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK, a national sales performance company, as well as a well-recognized keynote speaker, sales coach, and author, with a 25-year background in sales, sales team management and training. Learn more at www.salespeak.com

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Lose a Customer in Ten Days or Less

There are plenty of ways to lose a customer. Marketing expert Tom Richard is here with his top ways to repel customers and profit. Many of these are easily fixable. If you see yourself in any of these, then work quickly to eradicate them from your selling habits.

Profit Repellant #1: Memorize your company's literature and prepare yourself to regurgitate information about your company, your products, and yourself. While it may seem that having the right answers to every question imaginable may just cause them to want to spend their money with you, it is actually the fastest way to flash freeze any rapport you may have accidentally created.

Profit Repellant #2: Remind your customers of how long your company has been in business, how powerful your local presence is, and how many trucks you have on the road. You may think that customers will find comfort and security knowing this information but, rest assured, offering them this useless information will remind them that you have nothing of substance to talk to them about.

Profit Repellant #3: Be the first person to always bring up the price and take it a step further by offering unsolicited advice on how to save money by cutting out services and options they do not need. Contrary to popular belief, customers are not as price sensitive as you think. Therefore, if you obsess over it, you have a surefire way to reaffirm that you do not feel the price is fair and reasonable.

Profit Repellant #4: Always agree with your customers because the customer is always right. If you disagree with your customer, they may accidentally get the impression that you know what you're talking about, or heaven forbid, that you are actually an expert in your field. By always agreeing with your customer, you are all but guaranteed to lose the customer the moment somebody demonstrates competence and expertise, even at the expense of telling the customer that they're wrong.

Tom Richard is a speaker, writer and trainer who has dedicated his life to spreading the joy that comes from selling and marketing in a natural and enjoyable way. He is a syndicated business columnist who conducts more than 50 seminars each year. Learn more at www.BoltFromBlue.com

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -- Hans Hoffmann

Have you ever forgotten to call your most important client when you said you would, or completely blanked on a meeting with your boss? With all the tasks you have to do in a day, it's no wonder the big stuff can sometimes slip through the cracks. That's why it's not just important that you simplify your day - it's a crucial part of keeping your job, as well as your sanity.

Take time to schedule your day, keep phone calls during certain hours, use post-it notes, or use an electronic planner. Use whatever works best for you, and then stick to the system. Then you'll be able to see the day's priorities - and won't let any of them pass you by!

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Revisit Proposals for Hidden Gems of Opportunity

Money is tight for many people right now, making it essential that you cover all the bases with your current clients. Is there anything they need that you're missing out on? Are you sure their current purchases are getting them everything they need?

Sales trainer Kendra Lee suggests you look back at old proposals for hidden gold mines - you could have more sales in the pipeline a lot quicker than you thought!

"When I'm working with a prospect, I like to look further and deeper than the initial problem they see to get to all the potential issues creating it," says Lee. "Often the problem isn't a simple one and the deeper I dig with questioning, the more I learn about how we can solve it."

"My consultative approach results in a proposal that goes beyond one recommendation. It includes four, five, six suggestions or more on things they can do to address the challenge, complete with several options of how to get started."

"It's beefy and full of ideas they can choose to implement - or just think about for now. And therein lies the opportunity for us in a tough economy!"

"If you're writing a meaty proposal like I do, often your clients will choose to move forward with only a portion of what you recommended," continues Lee. "They liked your ideas, but budget, resources, or timing limited their initial implementation."

They probably even told you they'd like to "wait and do the other things later." And, if you're a savvy seller you pinned them down to dates of when they'd do the "other things."

But busy as we are, and aware of how clients are looking to conserve spending, you may not have revisited those "other things." Now's the time! You could have a goldmine of opportunity right on your hard drive!

Go back and revisit your proposals from the last twelve months. Look first at the suggestions they chose to invest in.

--How's their implementation progressing?
--What progress have they made in solving the problems they chose to deal with first?

Where do they still need help to eliminate those challenges? Do you smell an opportunity there?

Then, look at all those great recommendations you made but they elected to wait on. Here's the goldmine just waiting for you to unearth it!

--Do the issues behind your suggestions still exist?
--Could they make a difference in your client's profitability or cost cutting if fixed now?

Don't wonder. Go find out! Set up a review meeting to do a status check with your client.

"I really like review meetings," says Lee. "These are your opportunity to check in on how you're doing, reinforce the great work you've completed so far, and get your client's agreement on value they've already experienced."

"Dust off the proposal and use it as your guide in the meeting. The best part is, your client will remember it well. Before making any decision in the first place you know he spent a great deal of time studying it. You reviewed the document in depth with him to be sure he did!"

"Use the proposal to revisit the issues you originally discovered and agreed upon before you started working together," explains Lee. "Share the areas you think you can help take the results they've already experienced to even higher levels with some simple tweaks or additions."

Next, remind your client of the recommendations you'd made. Discuss those things they wanted to "wait and do later."

As you talk, the pain of those yet unsolved issues will come roaring back. Your client may see the need to address them now, especially if it'll help reduce costs, drive more revenue, or improve productivity of an already overworked staff.

Get creative and show how you can help even within their tight budget. Your clients will appreciate the attention you've given their problems. Before you know it, new opportunities will surface and your pipeline will be healthy again.

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 Mid market Business segment. Visit her site at www.klagroup.com

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Revisit Proposals for Hidden Gems of Opportunity

Money is tight for many people right now, making it essential that you cover all the bases with your current clients. Is there anything they need that you're missing out on? Are you sure their current purchases are getting them everything they need?

Sales trainer Kendra Lee suggests you look back at old proposals for hidden gold mines - you could have more sales in the pipeline a lot quicker than you thought!

"When I'm working with a prospect, I like to look further and deeper than the initial problem they see to get to all the potential issues creating it," says Lee. "Often the problem isn't a simple one and the deeper I dig with questioning, the more I learn about how we can solve it."

"My consultative approach results in a proposal that goes beyond one recommendation. It includes four, five, six suggestions or more on things they can do to address the challenge, complete with several options of how to get started."

"It's beefy and full of ideas they can choose to implement - or just think about for now. And therein lies the opportunity for us in a tough economy!"

"If you're writing a meaty proposal like I do, often your clients will choose to move forward with only a portion of what you recommended," continues Lee. "They liked your ideas, but budget, resources, or timing limited their initial implementation."

They probably even told you they'd like to "wait and do the other things later." And, if you're a savvy seller you pinned them down to dates of when they'd do the "other things."

But busy as we are, and aware of how clients are looking to conserve spending, you may not have revisited those "other things." Now's the time! You could have a goldmine of opportunity right on your hard drive!

Go back and revisit your proposals from the last twelve months. Look first at the suggestions they chose to invest in.

--How's their implementation progressing?
--What progress have they made in solving the problems they chose to deal with first?

Where do they still need help to eliminate those challenges? Do you smell an opportunity there?

Then, look at all those great recommendations you made but they elected to wait on. Here's the goldmine just waiting for you to unearth it!

--Do the issues behind your suggestions still exist?
--Could they make a difference in your client's profitability or cost cutting if fixed now?

Don't wonder. Go find out! Set up a review meeting to do a status check with your client.

"I really like review meetings," says Lee. "These are your opportunity to check in on how you're doing, reinforce the great work you've completed so far, and get your client's agreement on value they've already experienced."

"Dust off the proposal and use it as your guide in the meeting. The best part is, your client will remember it well. Before making any decision in the first place you know he spent a great deal of time studying it. You reviewed the document in depth with him to be sure he did!"

"Use the proposal to revisit the issues you originally discovered and agreed upon before you started working together," explains Lee. "Share the areas you think you can help take the results they've already experienced to even higher levels with some simple tweaks or additions."

Next, remind your client of the recommendations you'd made. Discuss those things they wanted to "wait and do later."

As you talk, the pain of those yet unsolved issues will come roaring back. Your client may see the need to address them now, especially if it'll help reduce costs, drive more revenue, or improve productivity of an already overworked staff.

Get creative and show how you can help even within their tight budget. Your clients will appreciate the attention you've given their problems. Before you know it, new opportunities will surface and your pipeline will be healthy again.

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 Mid market Business (SMB) segment. Visit her site at www.klagroup.com

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