Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting the Commitment

A recent question to sales expert Colleen Francis asked how to deal with the people who "need to think about it." Take Colleen's advice, and you may be able to get those people thinking - right away!

The trick with this objection is determining whether it's a real objection or not. Some prospects toss out this objection because they want to get rid of you. Some prospects really do need time to think about it. How can you tell them apart? Here is a highly effective two-step model you can use to get to the real hesitation, while giving you the right information required to close the business.

1. Stop, look and listen

Start by doing nothing at all. Wait patiently for 3 seconds whether on the phone or in person. Silence creates a space between you and the objection that's needed for the prospect to jump in and provide more information. Since most prospects are uncomfortable with the silence, they tend to provide you with details of their objections within 1-2 seconds. This technique works amazingly well IF you are disciplined enough to bite your tongue for just 3 seconds. Client Autumn Shirley swears that this is the most effective sales technique I have taught her in 5 years of working with me!

When the prospect does jump in, they will elaborate on the "let me think about it" objection and reveal their true concerns. Maybe they have to take your proposal to their manager. Maybe they have to wait for budget approval. Or perhaps they are waiting for a partner to present an alternative solution. Regardless of what they reveal it will be valuable information for you to know.

2. Emphasize and Ask

After you have been silent, it's now time to speak up, but always in the form of a question first. To test the legitimacy of the objection, start by empathizing with the prospect and follow up with a clarifying question. For example,

Prospect : "Let me think about it."
You : "Thanks for letting me know, I think it's smart of you to consider all your options. I'm curious..."

--" what concerns do you still have? " or
--" what is causing you to hesitate? "or
--" what is your number one concern about not proceeding further? "or
--" how will you make a decision to go ahead or not? "


When used together, these two steps allow the prospect a comfortable environment to open up in and help you determine if the objection is real, a stall tactic, or worse - just a put off!

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. Start improving your results today with Engage's online newsletter "Engaging Ideas" and a FREE 10 day intensive sales eCourse.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Plan Goals and Plan On The Means Of Hitting Them

We may be nearing the end of February, but it's never too late to make new goals and reassess old ones. This advice from sales trainer Tibor Shanto will help get you on the goal-setting (and goal-keeping) track!

"Companies and individuals spend way too much time on setting goals, and not nearly enough time on the means to achieve said goals," says Shanto. "This isn't a Zen thing where the journey is "more" than destination or arriving. It is based on the practical reality that most tend to feel that having a goal is half way there to achieving it. Yes, it is important to set goals, near term and long term, but having a game plan, a playbook that will help you get there is more important."

"When you ask most salespeople how they plan to achieve their goal, they will tell you that they will work harder, work smarter, leverage their relationships, or other cliches. When you drill down for specifics, you get the nervous laughter or smile. Very few talk to you about reviewing their territories and adjusting. While not exhaustive, here are some things to consider, no let me rephrase that, here are some things to execute."

Start by reviewing you account base, intimately know your top clients, and fire the bottom 10%. No really, these bottom 10% suck up you most valuable resources. Understand what your churn rate is, not only who is likely to disappear from your base in 12 months, but why. Is it attrition, which needs to be replaced; is it mergers and acquisitions which could leave you flat or down in revenues, and again a need to replace. How much of the churn can be made up from the base, with existing buyers or new pockets within client companies, how much will require the acquisition of new leads?

Segment your territory at least by size of company and type of products/offerings bought. There could be a host of other factors, but these two allow you to plan your time and resources. In a very general way, small clients and small buys will deliver smaller sales in less time than a large company will with "formal buying processes" buying bigger dollar amounts. You may find that it makes sense to have two small opportunities in your pipe for every large one, or you may not, you really won't know until you do the exercise.

Another output you get from the exercise above is a clear picture of what your best prospects look like. As you do this over time, you will also learn which and when some of you existing clients may grow, and how to leverage that; conversely which may fall off and when. For example, a simple indicator may be time to payment. If you notice that a client who extends their payments from 15 days to 30 days, generally reduce order size within three months, you know that you have to prepare for that by finding the volume elsewhere.

You can combine many of these data points to discover the Yield Per Call, based on the nature of the account, volume or dollars per call, and more. The aim here is to have a blended pipeline that will allow you to get to your goal, and your company's goal in the most efficient and profitable way.

Planning your goals and setting them is not easy, but planning the means of hitting goals set is paramount.

Tibor Shanto brings over 20 years of sales experience to Renbor Sales Solutions Inc., from telemarketing to leading a global sales team focused on providing top end solutions. Tibor has helped to improve performance for sales professionals in a wide variety of fields, from financial services to on-line B2B specialists.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Don't Get What You Don't Ask For

With people everywhere trying to cut corners, you've probably experienced an increase in clients asking for more - for less! Today business expert Anne Miller tells you how to deal with this situation.

How do you respond after a client asks for more services for the same amount of money on your proposal after you changed the proposal once already to accommodate their budget?

1. You deny the client's request, saying your offer is as it stands.
2. You revise the proposal, taking out other components of the offer to accommodate the client's new request at the same fee level.
3. You ask for more money to accommodate the new requests.

Any of these could work depending on the situation. However, let me advocate for the third option first. Ask for more money. Remind them of the value of what they’re getting (justifies the investment); the fact that you have already adjusted the proposal to earlier requests (introduces an element of fairness); that making any more changes would compromise the solution and tell them, that for the added services, the incremental cost is worth the investment (helps them justify the higher cost).

And, then, be quiet.

Very often, they will recognize that if they want more, they will have to pay more, and agree. If that does not happen, you can always decide to go with options 1 or 2. But, if you skip option 3 first, you are shooting yourself in the foot: leaving money on the table that could have been yours.

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. She works with people in high stakes situations and clients like Yahoo!, Citigroup, and Time, Inc. to sell millions of dollars of business every year. Visit her site at www.AnneMiller.com.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going For The Gold

When I saw this article from sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer I just knew it had to follow yesterday's quote - enjoy!

Going for the gold is what Lindsey Vonn was doing in the downhill Alpine skiing event at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She achieved her goal and had this to say about it. "This is everything I wanted and hoped for. I gave up everything for this."

When you find your passion, it's not work, it's pure love.

Unfortunately winning isn't only about having passion, it usually involves a good deal of sacrifice.

About 30 years ago I saw an interview with a Texas billionaire. He was asked by a CBS reporter, what advice he would give to the graduating college seniors that year.

He didn't blink, he didn't bat an eye, and he didn't hesitate a nanosecond to respond. He said, "You have to do three things. Determine what you want. Determine what you're willing to sacrifice to get it. Then just do it."

Most people have the capacity to dream big, but they lack the will to sacrifice anything to get what they want. That's just too bad and so sad!

Back to Lindsey for a second. She skied showing no signs of any discomfort even though she skied with a bruised shin. Think about these questions as you watch the Winter Olympics.

How successful do you really want to become?

What sacrifices are you ready to make today?

On a daily basis, are you doing what it takes to achieve your ultimate success - regardless what it might be?

Do you have to be twice as good as your best competitor? I don't think so. Here's the proof.

In the women's downhill event these were the times:

Gold: 1:44.19
Silver: 1:44.75
Bronze: 1:45.65

To win you need an edge, advantage, leg up, nose out, slip by, squeeze by - and all by the narrowest of margins. While the margin of difference between gold and silver is slim at best, the difference in effort is probably humongous.

You have one life to live, and it's not a dress rehearsal is it? Why not go for it?

Go for the GOLD!

Jim Meisenheimer publishes The Sales TrailBlazer Newsletter, a fresh and high content newsletter dedicated to helping you grow your business and multiply your income. To learn more, visit http://salestrailblazer.com/

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Quote of the Week

"An athlete may run ten thousand miles in order to prepare for one hundred yards. Quantity gives experience." -- Ray Bradbury

Have you been watching the Olympics? There have been some amazing performances - especially when you think about how many hours of practice go into one 25-second run down a hill, or 3 minutes of ice-skating

Those people put in hours and hours of work practicing their skill - why don't other professions do the same? It's the skilled salesperson that asks questions on a call, follows-up repeatedly, and gives presentations that demonstrate value. How skilled are you?

Get practicing today!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Social Media Ruining Your Sales?

In today's Sales 2.0 environment, sales professionals, consultants, and small business owners are told that they need to create an online presence if they expect to achieve their sales goals and targets. However, too many people take this advice to the extreme and end up spending far too much time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the plethora of other social media sites.

It is very easy to spend several hours a day reading posts, adding comments to discussions, tweeting your actions, and sorting through scads of information. However, it is critical to realize that social media should not replace your other sales building activities. You still have to find other ways of marketing your business. You still need to actively prospect. And you still need to schedule face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects.

While I believe a strong social presence can help you, you need to guard your time wisely. Otherwise, you can fritter away too much valuable time while believing that you are proactively moving your business forward.

Allot a specific amount of time each day for social media activities. Choose whatever time works best for you. The key is to limit yourself to that allotted time and to not get sucked into the social media vortex.

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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Thursday, February 18, 2010

How You Start Your Day Counts

I'm one of those people that will often stew over a bad day - thinking about what I could have said or done differently to change things. It's not the way to start a day, and today's advice from motivation expert Josh Hinds is something I'm going to try to put into practice right away.

Whether or not we choose to believe it, for the most part you and I have a clean slate with each new sunrise. Whatever happened yesterday, good or bad is now rooted in the past.

In the moment in which we now find ourselves, we have the ability to focus in on and do the things that will serve us for the better, or we can give our attention to those things that will re-ignite whatever thoughts were causing us to remain stuck.

We have a choice, and fortunately, it isn't all that difficult to set the tone early on in your day. Does that mean you're guaranteed not to meet with a challenge early on that will knock you off course or throw you for a loop? Of course not, but in the event that something (or someone) shows up with such an agenda you'll find yourself a lot more prepared to deal with it and be able to adjust course accordingly.

Here are some simple, but effective ideas you can use to start your day out on a positive note.

Upon waking up, name at least ten people you're thankful for - recount those in your life who've had a positive impact on you. Think of those who have in some way helped to make you the unique person you are.

Don't sell yourself short here. No matter what place you may find yourself in now, you're still an amazing person, with unique gifts and talents. You don't have to believe it, but it's still the absolute truth!

Practicing gratitude is a powerful thing that helps to reconnect us with our inner power, and the abilities that make up who we are.

Give thanks for your talents and skills - each of us has been blessed with special skills and talents. You may not feel as though you've completely developed all of yours up to this point in your life, but that doesn't change the fact that you've got them.

Think through those things that others compliment you on, those are talents. Don't underestimate all the amazing bits and pieces that go into making you the person you are. As you identify and give thanks for the talents that were bestowed upon you commit to develop them and become more proficient in their use.

Write down your days most important action steps the night before - The simple act of writing down the following days most important tasks will give you a plan to move on the next day. Keep in mind that you can get the most productive mileage if you'll put your "super tasks" at the top, where you'll complete them first.

For the purpose of this article consider Super Tasks as those things, which, upon their completion will give you the absolute most bang for your buck. Consider the difference between a "super task" and say one of lesser importance. A super task might be: calling on a prospective client, while one that doesn't quite hold such importance in the grand scheme of things might be: cut the grass.

While both are important, and you may very well want to get both done, the simple fact is the first example is going to lead towards a greater reward then the latter. You see, it's more a matter of separating items which fall into the category of "busy work" versus those which can move us forward at a maximum pace. Another such "super task" might be to spend time studying your industry or chosen profession.

Review the actions steps you wrote down the night before - As you are looking over the items you wrote down, close your eyes and see yourself completing them and experiencing the wonderful sense of accomplishment for having done so. After you have visualized yourself finishing the items on your daily action list take a deep breath and begin your day working on and completing them.

Keep in mind that each new day is just that – an opportunity to turn the page, and implement daily actions that can steer your life in the direction you wish it to go.

Josh Hinds is a speaker, trainer, and author on topics such as networking and personal branding. Check out his popular newsletter at www.GetMotivation.com.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Show Me The Money!

It's never easy to talk about money - but as a top salesperson, you have to boldly go into those situations - with confidence and questions at the ready! Today the Whetstone Group walks you through this delicate process of the sale.

Problem: Why is money so difficult to discuss? Salespeople frequently hear from prospects that budget is "no problem" at the beginning of the sales call. However, once things start to get close, the story sometimes changes. We're told that we "have to sharpen our pencil," "get more competitive," or offer "additional discounts." And yet, once the sale is won, price seems to evaporate as an issue and pressure is put on the vendor to improve quality or service. Often we hear from salespeople that money is the number one issue in getting and keeping the business. We need to have more competitive pricing, better discount structures or we just can't compete. You've heard it all before.

Analysis: There are several reasons that investment or budget is discussed only superficially. First, is the unfortunate, self-limiting belief (that afflicts many, but not all salespeople) that discussing financial issues is impolite. Second, experience has shown us that a discussion of price typically deteriorates into a negotiation situation which is uncomfortable. Third, we're afraid that the prospect may not be able to afford our product. Fourth, deep down, we may not be convinced that our product is really worth what we're asking.

Prescription: Don't ever get yourself into a situation where you're making a proposal without finding out two things: 1) how much the problem is costing the prospect, and 2) how much they'd be willing to spend assuming your solution completely fixed the problem. It's imperative that you understand all the financial parameters related to the sale. One effective way to make sure budget and related money issues are discussed is for you to set a "trap" for yourself. It goes something like this: "Mr. Prospect, one of the things that I sometimes find difficult to discuss is budgetary issues related to purchasing my product. I'm not sure why that is, but I want to make sure that we take some time to talk about that today. Is that okay with you?" This "trap" lets the prospect know up-front that money issues will be part of the discussion and gives you an excuse to bring them up. You might say, "Do you remember that we wanted to discuss your budget for this type of purchase? Can we do that now?"

Oh, yeah! One last thing -- don't spend your valuable selling time with someone who doesn't have the financial resources to buy your product or service.

Whetstone Group is a sales process improvement company that focuses on helping companies implement a proven sales process that will increase sales, shorten the selling cycle, increase closing rates, and improve margins. Learn more at www.whetstonegroup.com

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Punch Up Your Presentations

You can never have too many presentation tips - and these tips from sales trainer Joe Guertin are great basics we could all stand to be reminded of. Clients and prospects everywhere will appreciate your making use of them!

According to Guertin, "Too often, we make presentations that put the spotlight on us, and our company. For instance, how much time do you spend writing your proposals? A wise sales manager taught me that the amount of time I invested in preparation should be proportionate to the dollars I was asking for. Makes sense. While there's nothing wrong with re-using a proposal format (a great time-saver), don't let a weak, generic proposal lose the sale."

"Before proposing your solution, probe for specific needs," explains Guertin. "If your prospect said "saving money is a priority," don't make 'saving money' one of your objectives. It's just not specific enough. Use due diligence to discover where they could use that extra money. Find out what they believe would change - for the better - once committed to you. Now, your objectives become helping them achieve those goals."

Here are three things to double-check before you make that next 'big one:'

Your Materials
Are your written materials neat and organized? Doing some additional homework, customizing your presentation, and watching the small details can make a world of difference. Customize it to their needs, including having an "objectives" page that spells out, in detail, which of their goals you're helping to achieve. And, whenever possible, use visuals or demonstrations to make key points.

Your Leadership
A prospect should never be handed a proposal to quietly read. The best, and most successful proposals, are interactive. You both have a part. You're the tour guide through this presentation, and it's up to you to walk them through the selling points, getting their comments along the way.

Yourself
Did you add a little extra grooming time this morning? Clothes clean and pressed? An extra breath mint in your pocket? Did you "dry run" your presentation? Top pros continue to record themselves, and become keenly aware of speech habits (like repeated use of "you know," you know?). And always arrive five to ten minutes early for a scheduled appointment. Even if you don't notice, your prospect will.

Joe Guertin is an advertising sales trainer, speaker and coach. His programs have informed and entertained sales professionals nationwide. Visit his Sales Resource Center at www.StreetFighterSelling.com

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Set higher standards for you own performance than anyone around you, and it won't matter whether you have a tough boss or an easy one. It won't matter whether the competition is pushing you hard, because you'll be competing with yourself." -- Rick Pitino

This quote is a wonderful reminder that even if you can't control certain things (your crazy boss, the pushy competition,) you CAN control your own performance under those circumstances. You can make the decision to push towards a goal, stay later, come earlier, or make more calls.

Do those things, and you may find your success distracts you from the outside influences that usually bring you down!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Sales Lessons Learned from a Recession - Part 2

Yesterday sales trainer Kelley Robertson showed us some of the many things we can learn from the recession - and he's back again today with more!

Signing Authority
Many decision-makers no longer have the ability to sign off on the same level of expenses or purchases as before. This has significant ramifications.

The ego issue. Picture yourself in the executive office, perhaps you're a VP of Sales or Marketing. Until last year you could approve any purchase under $20,000. Now, you need to get approval from a purchasing committee for any expense over $5,000. Although you understand the philosophy behind this policy, it is challenging because in your eight-year history with the company you have never made a poor buying decision.

The buying committee. You may now have to deal with buying committees, and if you're not careful, you won't even get the chance to meet them. That means the decision to use your product; service or solution could be vetoed.

No approval. Some purchases simply won't be approved because of the extent or nature of the expense. Even though your solution may benefit the company, the organization may choose not to move forward simply because they know they won't get approval for the expense. It's not fair but it is a fact of business.

Once again, this means that you need to ask more questions to uncover the approval process. Be sensitive to the decision-maker's position if you discover that they no longer have the authority to sign off on your product or service. Look for ways to help them facilitate their decision. Work with your company to extend payment terms in certain circumstances.

Value is King
Value has always been important in the eyes of the decision-maker. However, it has become even more important. But, it is critical to note that value is what the decision-makers deem valuable. It's not about you touting the features, advantages and benefits of your product. Just because you think something is important does not mean your prospect or customer will. Value is in the eyes of the beholder only. That means you need to ask high-value questions to determine EXACTLY what is important to each prospect and each customer. Once you have accomplished this you need to adapt your sales presentation (aka sales pitch) to ensure that it addresses your prospect value requirement(s).

Make No Excuses
The sales professionals who prospered this past year were assertive in generating business. They did not use the recession as an excuse. They did not wait for business opportunities to come their way; they took responsibility and did whatever they could to reach their targets. This has always been a distinguishing factor between high-performing sales professionals and it will become even more important in the future.

What did you learn from selling in a recession and are you prepared to make changes in order to make 2010 a great year?

Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals close more sales with less effort. Kelley conducts workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. Receive a FREE copy of 100 Ways to Increase Your Sales by subscribing to his free newsletter at www.Fearless-Selling.ca.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sales Lessons Learned from a Recession

A lot has happened in the past year, and instead of trying to forget about it, sales trainer Kelley Robertson suggests you learn from it!

The past year was definitely interesting. Some sales professionals prospered while others suffered. I spoke to one person who doubled his income - and he works in automotive sales! Yet, another well-established person experienced a decline of more than fifty percent in his sales. There are several key sales lessons that can be learned from selling in a recession. These will help you succeed in the upcoming year.

Companies are Leaner
This has been an ongoing factor for many years with continual downsizing and cut backs. However, the recession forced many companies to scale back even further than they normally would have. This has resulted in an extremely lean workforce.

What does that mean for salespeople?

It means people are stretched even further and busier than ever before. It means it will become even more difficult to connect with decision-makers. It means projects will be put on hold because people will be too busy to implement them. You need to find a way to help your customers deal with this. Make your solutions easier. Assist with the implementation. This also means respecting their time when you meet. If you have sixty minutes allotted for your meeting but you can wrap it up in forty-five, then do so. Your customer will appreciate it and it will help you stand out from the crowd.

The Buying Process Has Changed
There is no question that decision-makers in corporate America have changed the way they make buying decisions. Caution is now a standard business practice and I suspect that it will remain that way for years to come. This means you need to become more adept and proficient in your discovery process. You not only need to find out who is responsible for the buying decision but also what internal factors your key decision-makers are facing that may derail the sale or prevent the process from moving forward.

This has always been part of the sales process. However, it is even more critical to uncover this information as part of your discovery process. The sales professionals who get this will outshine their colleagues and competitors.

Check back tomorrow when Robertson continues with more lessons from the recession.

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, February 10, 2010

Do You Really Get It?

Sometimes traditional networking gets a bad rap - after all, just having someone's business card does not mean you know them - or can ask for a favor! Today business growth expert Diane Helbig serves up a networking reality-check.

A friend of mine called me the other day to tell me about a 'networking' experience she had. She met a man at an event and they exchanged cards. The man then contacted her and said he'd like to meet for coffee to get to know her business better.

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, when they met he started into his pitch. He monopolized the conversation and spent the entire time talking about his business, how it could help her, and how it could help her clients. Instead of creating interest he had completely turned her off.

Now this concerned me because I know this man and thought he understood the art of networking. Apparently, I was wrong.

The question becomes, do you really get it? Do you really understand that networking is about relationship building, about learning about the other person so you can refer them when possible?

Here's a checklist you can use when you enter a conversation to make sure you are keeping on track:

1. Do I know what this person does?
2. Do I know what they believe?
3. Do I know why they do what they do?
4. Do I understand the value they bring to their clients?

Notice I have not said anything about YOU! The checklist does not include whether you have told them anything. It does include guidelines for how much you are learning about the other person.

Before you open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say or ask will answer one or more of the above questions. If not, your focus is in the wrong place.

Now go network!

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at www.seizethisdaycoaching.com

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wow! Your Customers

Has your boss ever told you to wow your customers - leaving you wondering exactly what that means? It's a vague statement that people often misunderstand - so today, sales expert Colleen Francis shares what it really means to wow your customers.

Wowing your customer is surprisingly simple. Think of how you felt the last time you received an unexpected card from a friend or someone you work with. WOW!! Right? It means a lot when you know that someone has taken the time to think about you. It says that someone cares about you and wants you to be happy.

For example, a couple of years ago at a conference I interviewed a top 1 percent performer for a large chemical company. Bill was the number one sales rep for his company three years running. When asked to what he attributed his success, this is what he said:

The guys who hit quota know the client's birthday. The guys in the top 10 percent know the client's wife's birthday. I know the client's dog's birthday.

The lesson: Bill has achieved WOW! Bill is a Life Giver. Bill is a top performer.

Of course when it's just a kind gesture or two, WOW! doesn't take much effort at all. But making a habit of it means that a bit more thinking has to go into what you're doing. Getting good - really good - at WOW! means you have to keep an eye on the things you do on a regular basis. Here are three tips to keep in mind.

First, be consistent. If you want to be the person who always remembers everyone's birthday, it's not going to be enough to remember just once and then never again. By being consistent, you demonstrate to people that you're not being nice simply because you woke up one morning in a great mood. You're showing that this is something you do as a matter of practice...because you really care. Trust is built through consistent behavior over time.

Second, be prompt. Don't wait a month before sending out thank-you cards after hosting or attending that great event. Do something while the memory and the good feelings are still fresh in everyone's minds. You're sending a powerful message to people about what matters to you in your life.

Third, be thoughtful. This is where your creativity and attention to detail can help you really stand out. Remember that there are no limits to how much you can care for others.

Recently I interviewed a top salesperson and asked her what set her apart from everyone else in her business. "I genuinely love people and I like showing how much I appreciate them," she explained. "There are plenty who remember to send out a birthday card to a friend or client, but I'll bet I'm the only one who thinks to also send out an anniversary card to the couple!"

This week make a list of your best clients and create a WOW! Plan for the year. What can you celebrate with them? What can you send them? How can you show you truly care about them?

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. Start improving your results today with Engage's online newsletter "Engaging Ideas".

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The future doesn't just happen - it's shaped by decisions." -- Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner

How are you feeling after the Super Bowl - a little tired? Well wake up, because you've got decisions to make!

Your first decision? Put your all in to today's work. After you've done that, map out your goals for the month and what you're going to do to achieve them. Then, each day, make the decisions necessary to achieve those goals! If you have a lofty goal you won't get there by floating through each day - actively make the decisions to make it happen.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Opening the Sale - Because You'll Never "Close" Without Opening Well

Making contact with a new client can be nerve-wracking - no wonder so many struggle with it! Richard Dickerson at The Brooks Group has noticed this as well, saying, "In working with and coaching salespeople, particularly new ones, or untrained ones, I have noticed many stumbling with how to initiate sales calls. Whether "cold" or scheduled appointments, many have difficulty deciding how to open the sales call. Why not simply be honest and express your intentions?" Read on for his advice.

Your prospect/customer knows you're a salesperson. They are not stupid or naive. Being honest about yourself and your reason for meeting will position you much more favorably. Issue a statement of intention. For example: "Hello. My name is Richard Dickerson with The Brooks Group and the purpose of our appointment is to meet you, get to know you better, share information about our (whatever you sell) and discuss anything you wish to discuss with me." Or, another way, "Hello, I am Richard Dickerson with The Brooks Group and what I would like to accomplish is to meet you, get to know you better, share information about our (whatever you sell) and discuss anything you wish to discuss with me."

You have clearly stated a reason for being there, and most importantly, invited dialogue. Remember, they know you are a salesperson. They are more comfortable if they feel no pressure from you. The phrase "and anything you'd like to discuss with me" takes the pressure off them and you. It discloses your wish to have dialogue - a conversation, not a data dump by you, the salesperson. Prospects feel threatened by monologue. It's inconsiderate and self focused. We have to focus on the prospect, and the prospect has to feel that focus to help develop trust in us.

Also, this is not a script; it is a language or methodology for gaining attention and building trust. Use your own words that exemplify the principle. And remember to keep it simple - least amount of words spoken with conviction and confidence that convey clearly and sincerely your interest in your prospect's or customer's biggest, most pressing concern.

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. Click here to sign up for The Brooks Group's Free Sales Training Newsletter.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creating the Confidence Necessary to Win Over C-Level Executives

Confidence is what C-level decision-makers want to see in their selling partners. Yet, it's uncomfortable selling to influential leaders. Big egos come with big titles and these people can be intimidating. Therefore a salesperson's biggest asset is confidence. So how do you build that confidence? Today sales trainer Sam Manfer walks you through the process.

If you're confident you exude credibility. Confidence leads to believability and trust, and credibility, believability and trust, respect and results are key ingredients necessary for selling to powerful and C-level executives. However, do not confuse confidence with arrogance or boasting. Confidence is stealth and very pervasive.

The best way to become confident is to prepare. Here's how. Learn about the situation or the executives before the engagement. Ask anyone you can about the situation and executive for information. If you open your mind, you'll think of a lot of people who can help you. Ask yourself what you want to know. Then prepare questions to get this info. Prepare questions for your contacts and for the executive. Have questions to confirm information and to gather new information. Before meetings call the executive and other participates to learn their expectations of the upcoming meeting. These and other preparations will get you ready and instill a feeling of confidence.

Visualize a positive outcome. Most people are intimidated and feel uncomfortable visiting powerful people. This is called fear in one sense or another. Fear is just the visualization or projection of a negative outcome. Why do you lock your doors? You worry someone will steal your belongings or hurt you. Why do you slow-up when you see a police car? You fear getting a ticket. You're visualizing the worst.

The same is true when thinking about officers of a company involved in the decision making for your sale. This nervousness goes to rationalizations (I really don't need to meet with the top people) and/or uneasiness once you decide it is necessary. It is all negative projection - they don't want to meet with you, or others will block you or feel badly if you go to their bosses, or you worry the meeting will go badly and you'll lose the deal. This is all negative speculation.

You don't know how it will go. You don't know that you'll get robbed if you leave your car unlocked. You don't know if your meeting will go well or badly. However, when you think negatively, you lose confidence and come across as weak and ineffective.

Confident people feel comfortable asking pointed, penetrating questions - ones to learn the executive's real issues, threats and opportunities, and they get the information without interrogating. They feel comfortable following-up with more questions to clear ambiguities and to understand the deeper meaning of words and phrases - often buried issues. Most importantly, they posture themselves to listen intently. These actions make leaders feel confident about the individual so that they can project positively about the upcoming deal.

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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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Can Get a Better Deal Elsewhere

Let's face it -- today's business world is competitive. Besides the normal objections you get (no money, price too high, need to talk to, etc.) a common objection that blows out 80% of your competition is, "I can get a better deal elsewhere." This frustrates a lot of sales reps and takes thousands of dollars of commission out of their pockets. Today sales trainer Mike Brooks shows you how to deal with this objection.

The top 20% also get this objection but are prepared for it and know how to overcome it. Here's what they do:

First, they recognize that if someone says that they can get a better deal elsewhere, it means one of three things:

1 -- They're wrong (in other words, they think they are getting the same thing you're offering, but they're not).

2 -- They're just putting you off and using this objection as a smokescreen.

3 -- They really can get a better deal.

In order to find out what your prospect means, offer to help them determine if they really are getting a better deal by questioning and comparing every component of it. Use this script:

"Bob, my customers tell me this all the time, and sometimes they genuinely can get a better deal, but a lot of times they can't. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go over each item you've been quoted by this other company, in other words we will compare apples to apples, and if everything is equal I'll see if I can do even better on that. If I can, you'll get an even better deal and if I can't, I'll tell you so. Either way, you'll win. Now, do you have that other quote in front of you?"

Then simply go over each item to make sure everything is equal. Often times it's not and you can point this out. And if it is, you still have a chance to win the deal. If they do have a better deal, then build the value of having you as their sales rep and try to close the sale anyway. Either way, you'll win.

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, works with business owners and inside sales reps nationwide teaching them the skills, strategies and techniques of top 20% performance. If you're looking to catapult your sales, or create a sales team that actually makes their monthly revenues, then learn how by visiting: www.MrInsideSales.com.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Give the Buyer a Fair Price

With customers asking for discounts left and right, it can be difficult to feel comfortable and confident with your pricing. If you're too high you might feel uncomfortable selling, and if they're too low, you don't make enough on each sale. Today sales trainer Tom Reilly shares how to make sure your price is right.

The easiest way to avoid price resistance is to give the buyer a fair price. The tough part is determining a fair price. Perceptions of fairness are based largely on emotion, which means buyers' reactions may not always be rational.

Buyers want to maximize the return on their investment. They want a good deal. Sellers, on the other hand, want to optimize their pricing. They want to apply prices effectively to gain a desirable return on sales. At first glance, this sounds like a zero-sum game-one winner and one loser. In practice, it can be win-win.

The search for the Grail of fair pricing reaches back through history, from contemporary economists to Adam Smith to Aristotle's study of ethics. Aristotle wrote, "equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally." Some may reach further to the beginning of time and ask, "Did Adam really understand the price he would pay for that apple?"

The central construct of win-win outcomes is equity: Is the product or service a fair exchange for what I give up to acquire it? Or, am I getting as good as I am giving? Both buyer and seller should be able to answer this question favorably. Satisfaction with the outcome of the transaction is tied to one's expectations of gain. This means sellers must understand the buyer's expectations of the return on investment that the buyer wants. Also, if the seller's expectations are not met, seller remorse sets in.

The way to begin your discussion of price is to determine in advance an equitable outcome for buyer and seller. If it is a good deal for the customer and a good deal for you, that sounds like a fair price to me.

Tom Reilly is the president of Tom Reilly Training. He is an authority on value-added selling, and speaks to thousands of salespeople and managers annually on increasing their value to their company and customers.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Quote of the Week

"I'm a great believer in life in saying yes and not saying no...and hopefully making people smile." -- Richard Branson

One of the best ways to keep your current clients is to make them smile. And one way to make them smile is to say yes - to what you can! If they need an order earlier than expected and you can make it happen, just say yes. If you can squeeze in an emergency meeting or take someone out to coffee, just say yes. Do what you can to make life easier for others, and you may just find the more you say yes, the more sales come your way.

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