Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 30, 2007

Morgan James Publishing and Paul McCord Join Forces

Filed under: Book Recommendations,Sales Resources,sales training — Paul McCord @ 2:33 pm

After much negotiation by my agent, Sammie Justensen of Northern Lights Literary Services, with three publishers, we have decided to join forces with Morgan James Publishing to publish my newest book, SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar (working title).  The book should be in stores in late winter or early spring of next year. Morgan James Publishing has a solid stable of quality business authors such as Mark Victor Hanson (one of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” guys), Dr. Joe Vitale, Jay Conrad Levinson (all of those guerrilla-marketing books), Joel Comm, Rich Frishman, Tony Alessandra, Mark Joyner and others.  

Not only am I proud to say I’m joining a great line-up of authors, but a top of the line, innovative, 21st century publisher also. On another note, I’m pleased to say that I have been nominated and accepted into the Society of Industry Leaders.  Sponsored by Standard and Poor’s, the society is a group of thought leaders from numerous industries.  Of which, I am now proud to say, my small contributions to sales theory and training have been deemed to qualify me for membership. 

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June 29, 2007

What’s Hype and What’s Not–Selecting Sales Training

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:52 pm

A couple of days ago a friend and I were discussing the issues salespeople and companies have in selecting outside sales training.  It certainly isn’t a new subject.  I’m often asked with so many calling themselves sales trainers, how do you know who has training of value and who doesn’t?

A very legitimate question and one that, like everything else in sales, requires some work and investigation on the part of the salesperson or the company to make a reasoned decision on who to hire or whose seminars to attend, books to buy, and CD’s to invest in.   

Here are some ideas on how you can make rational decisions about where to invest your training dollars: 

Read their articles:  Most quality sales trainers have articles they have written posted on their web site, published in various internet and print publications, and on their blog.  Spend some time reading their articles.  Do they have quality information, techniques and strategies?  On the other hand, are they just parroting the same old tired stuff? 

Who published their book?  If they have a book, is it published by one of the major business publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Wiley and Sons, Kaplan, Warner Books, Entrepreneur Press or another of the major publishers?  There are many good books published by smaller publishers and even good books that are self-published, but the major publishers are very, very picky.  As a general rule, if a major publisher publishes them, take a look at them.  This is NOT to say that the major publishers don’t publish junk on occasion—they do.  It is simply to say, if one of the big boys has published them, they are probably worth looking into more deeply. 

Where are their articles published?  Are they only on their web site and on the massive internet article sites?  Or, are they published in quality internet and print publications such as Selling Power, various industry publications like Advisor Today, Registered Rep, REALTOR, EyesOnSales, MarketingProfs, RainToday and other industry publications?  Again, this shouldn’t eliminate non-published trainers, but these publications are fussy and seek to publish the best information they can.  Consequently, those who are published in industry publications probably have something of value to say.   

Does their website give value or just hype?  Most quality trainers will have quality information available on their sites, not just hype about how great they are.  Is the trainer offering value on their site?  If they are, then look further.  If it’s all hype, look elsewhere.  If their website is content rich, their training probably is also.  If their site is all hype, expect the same from their training. 

Do their training claims make sense?  Are they offering “easy” ways to “work less”  or “get rich”?  If their claims don’t make sense, their training won’t either.  There isn’t an easy, quick, work less way of selling.  Sales is a highly active, intense profession that takes a great deal of skill and commitment to become a top producer.  So, is the trainer telling you the truth about what it takes to be successful—or just what you want to hear to pry some of your dollars out of your pocket? 

Do they give value in their free stuff?  If they have free tele-seminars, e-books, or other materials, do they actually give real training value—or are they just a come-on for their paid products?  This doesn’t mean that they don’t advertise their paid products in these items, they have to make a living and the fact they advertise in something they give away shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.  However, when they do give away something, it should itself have real value.  If it’s just fluff or a come-on, that should be a warning sign. 

Are their charges reasonable?  Is the price reasonable for the product you’re buying?  This doesn’t’ mean that all one-hour CD’s should cost the same.  You’re not buying the cost of the CD; you’re buying the value of the information on the CD.  But if you’ve paid $89 for a great CD from a trainer you know, shouldn’t you think twice about paying $395 for a one-hour CD from someone you’ve never heard of before?  Most quality training CD’s will be priced between $20 and $99.  Sets can go from $89 to a few hundred dollars.  Tele-seminars will go anywhere from $39 to $149.  Quality e-books from $10 to 40.  If you’re looking at prices above that, think carefully. 

Training or Motivation?  There is a difference.  Some motivational speakers put out “training” tapes that are nothing more than motivational hype.  This, again, isn’t to say that real sales training can’t be motivational.  It should be.  But are you buying real training that motivates you, or are you just buying excitement?  There is a proper place for both—just know what you’re buying.

Do They Participate in Internet Forums?  If they particpate in internet forums, are their posts designed to give good, solid, informative answers, or are they just teasing to try to get you to pay for their products?  If a trainer addresses an issue on a forum, they should address it, not hint that they have an answer–and if only you’ll buy their books, and products you’ll find it.  Of course, they participate in hopes of finding new customers, but that doesn’t negate their obligation to particiapte honestly in the forum.  Fishing for customers is less than honest–a sign that their training might be also.

I constantly hear horror stories of salespeople being ripped off with very costly—and useless “training.”  Seminars that are a total waste of time, e-books costing $97 that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, CD sets selling for $895 that have a good 5 minutes worth of actual training on them.   

Unfortunately, companies get caught in the same traps.  They spend thousands for someone to come and give motivation and no training, or whose hype is about how they have the greatest sales training in the world that will revolutionize the company, just to find out that they’re giving the same old stuff they could have gotten from their new salespeople.   

There are great sales trainers out there.  There are also some real scam artists.  You don’t have to be caught by the scammers.  Just do some homework and you’ll be able to tell who’s worth spending your money with and who isn’t.

June 20, 2007

The PWWR Referral Generation System and NLP

Filed under: Referral Selling — Paul McCord @ 6:54 am

Misty Davis, a financial planning professional emailed me last week wondering why I never address the subject of or even often use the language of NLP:

“Mr. McCord, I’ve read your book and many of your articles.  I find your systems and techniques to be extremely beneficial and I’m incorporating them deeper and deeper into my business.  But I’ve noticed that you seldom use the language of NLP.  NLP is another process that I use and I’m integrating your system and NLP.  But I’m really curious as to why you never mention it or use its language.” 

Interesting question.  In addition, one that I’m surprised has come up.  Not that I’m surprised that many who are integrating the PWWR Referral Generation System into their businesses are also using NLP, but because, frankly, I’m a little surprised someone noticed the lack of NLP in my writing. 

The techniques and strategies of NLP fit nicely within the PWWR system, or, more correctly, the PWWR System fits nicely within NLP.  Integrating the two is simple and straightforward. 

But Misty is correct, I discuss few NLP techniques.  Not because I don’t necessarily believe they work, I certainly believe there is some value to what NLP teaches, but because I have a concern about how some of the techniques and strategies of NLP are applied by some salespeople.   I am a firm believer that long-term sales relationships are built on trust, honesty and a win/win solution for the client and the salesperson.  That foundation of trust must be initiated and cultivated by the salesperson first in order to win the trust of the client.  NLP with its modeling and mimicking can easily turn from a communication device into a manipulation device (in fact, at its core, it does appear to be centered on what NLP might consider to be beneficent manipulation).  Manipulation may result in a short-term sale, but with long-term negative results in terms of trust and respect. 

NLP is a results oriented process, with little attention paid to the concepts of truth and reality.  The truth or reality of a situation are, at most, secondary to the results.  An ethically neutral system can be, by definition, directed into an ethical or unethical course of action.  That I do have some problems with. 

Now, I certainly recognize that I’m not the sales world’s keeper.  What a particular salesperson does with the information and knowledge they gain is their business, not mine.  However, I have to ask if there are some methodologies that may work, but are intrinsically so manipulative that they are counter productive in building trust? 

Of course, the argument from NLP is that the techniques and strategies are effective in building rapport and rapport helps build trust.  In the purest sense, I agree.  In the reality of the sales world, I’m still not sure. 

Therefore, bottom-line, Misty, is that the two integrate well and certainly using some of the NLP strategies can make the PWWR System even more powerful.   Moreover, if there is an NLP guru reading this, I’d love to hear the other side of this argument—I’m open to being convinced that I’m wrong.

June 13, 2007

I Am Honored to Be Cited in Selling Sucks

Filed under: Book Recommendations — Paul McCord @ 9:52 am

Frank Rumbauskas, in his recently released book, Selling Sucks: How to Stop Selling and Start Getting Prospects to Buy, has paid me the highest honor an author can receive–by citing my book as the hands down best work on its subject and then taking a significant portion of one chapter to give a short synopsis.

I certainly am flattered and honored that Frank would not only strongly endorse the book, but also then go well beyond that and cite it so prominently in his new work.

Over the past few months that the book has been on the market, it has received strong endorsements and great reviews, all of which are greatly appreciated.  Nevertheless, this honor really does leave me speechless.

I am proud the book is quickly becoming recognized as the authoritative work on referral selling and I want to again thank all who have bought the book–and especially those who have taken the time and effort to personally relay to me how the book has helped to increase their sales–and their incomes.

I would like to encourage other readers to email me at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with any questions the book may have raised–and especially with your success stories.  By the way, there are additional referral selling resources on my website.

Paul

June 9, 2007

Cure for a Slump

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:14 am

Are you in a sales slump?  Are you desperately seeking some way to find a cure?  Here is a quick shot in the arm tactic I use with many of my new coaching clients that almost always works to generate quick business.  This isn’t a cure all, but it can bring in some quick sales and the psychological boost it gives helps to get you back on track.

Two of my new clients have used this within the past week and a half and both have had tremendous results.

Examine your list of family, friends, business associates and acquaintances.  Which one is the one most likely to be able to refer you to several people you know you want to be referred to?  Do a little research and make a list of 15 to 25 people you know you want to be referred to that, you think this person knows.  This does take some effort as you’ll have to find out what organizations, associations, past employers, etc. your proposed referrer belongs to.  Once you have your list of the associations and past employers, you’ll have to investigate these to determine whom within those groups you want a referral to. 

Once you have your list, approach your proposed referrer.  Explain that you aren’t approaching him or her to sell them—take the pressure off them immediately.  This isn’t a sales call.  Instead, simply ask them if you might be able to ask them about a few people, they might know.  Then go over your list.  If you have a list of 15 to 25 people, they will probably know 5 to 10 of them.  Ask questions to find out as much as you can about the people they know on your list and exactly what their relationship is with those people.  Then, finally, ask if they would be willing to refer you to these people.  Almost without fail, if you have a good relationship with them, they’ll say yes and you’ll walk away with anywhere from 5 to 10, sometimes more, referrals to people you know you want to be referred to.

Then, don’t just go and call them.  Instead, write a letter to each for your referrer to sign recommending the prospect meet with you.  Send your letters two or three at a time and then follow up four or five days later with a phone call.  You should end up with somewhere between 3 and 8 appointments.

Once you’ve met with these prospects, approach another friend or acquaintance and do the same thing again.

Why does this work when simply asking friends, family and acquaintance for referrals doesn’t work?  For several reasons.  First, it takes the pressure off the potential referrer—they know you’re not going to try to sell them and they don’t have to think of who to refer you to (by the way, after you go over your list, they’ll probably bring up other people that you weren’t on your list).  Your family, friends and acquaintances really don’t know who a quality referral for you is—so if you come prepared with a list, it takes the work out of their hands and shows them exactly the type of person or company you’re looking for.  Secondly, by coming with a prepared list, they understand that you’re serious.  Third, it is much more difficult for someone to say “no” to a specific request than it is to simply say, “I don’t know of anyone.”

As mentioned previously, this isn’t a cure all—unless you happen to know enough people to keep your business going forever.  However, it is a quick shot in the arm, and if you learn how to generate a large number of high quality referrals from each of your clients, this can transform your business in a relatively short period of time.

June 5, 2007

It’s True, Selling Sucks

Filed under: Book Recommendations — Paul McCord @ 7:54 am

My friend, Frank Rumbauskas, the New York Times Best-selling author of Never Cold Call Again, releases his newest book today–Selling Sucks: How to Stop Selling and Start Getting Prospects to Buy.”

Frank has analyzed the ways that the Top Sales Pros generate their huge volume of business. 

They don’t sell.

People hate to be sold–but most people love to buy.  And that is exactly what the Top Sales Pros do–they let the customer buy.

Frank has partnered with dozens of top sales trainers, coaches, and internet marketing specialists to offer some “ethical bribes” to help you make the easy decision to purchase the book today at Amazon.  By investing less than $15 in your sales career by buying Frank’s book, you will receive over $5,000 of incentives from top trainers like Michael Port, Jeffrey Gitomer, Mark Joyner, myself and many others.

Go to http://www.selling-sucks.com to get the details and see some of the bonuses you get when you buy the book.

But the incentives aren’t the reason to purchase the book today.  The real reason is because the book is good–period.  The book reveals the stratgies these top producers use and how you can use them also.  Buy the book because it can change your career–and then take advantage of all of the other bonuses that are icing on the cake.

Is your career worth $15?  Is your success worth a hamburger, fries and a couple of beers at Chilies?  I would certainly hope so.  If money’s tight, maybe you skip a couple of Burger King stops this month.  It’s worth it–it’ll move you from Burger King, to Steak and Ale, to Ruth’s Chris in just a matter of months.

Disclaimer:  Yes, Frank features my book prominately in his chapter on referrals.  But even if he hadn’t, I’d still be strongly recommending his book.  So, don’t think this is pay-back or anything of the sort.  It’s just plain a great book and one that should be read and studied if you’re serious about your sales career.

Learn more at http://www.selling-sucks.com you’ll be rewarded for your effort and your small investment many times over.

June 3, 2007

Fear, Failure and Our Choices

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 8:34 pm

This past week I acquired a new coaching client.  Nothing unusual about that–except this client, like many in the securities industry, finds himself in the position of having 120 days to develop a practice capable of sustaining his family—or he is out of the industry.  He just finished his 13 weeks of training, passed his series 7 and 63 exams, and is now on a four-month do or die schedule.

I have the opportunity to speak with thousands of sales people from dozens and dozens of industries.  Depending on their industry, their “life support” (their initial guarantee, draw or salary) to help them get started may have been as long as a couple of years—or as short as, well, none at all.  Almost without exception, each had to work their way through their initial start-up stage with the stress and fear not only of failure, but of potential financial disaster if they failed, since many had to dip into savings in order to meet their basic obligations, not to mention having funds to help them market themselves.  My newest coaching client is just starting his ramp-up period—and he is fully aware of just how short four months is.

For most of us, the fear of failure is a strong motivator.  No one likes to fail, no matter what they are trying to accomplish.  A salaried employee wants to succeed at their job.  An hourly employee wants to succeed at theirs also.  However, both the salaried and hourly employee knows that they have the security of a future income—even if they simply do the minimum to retain their job.  For us in sales, the minimum required to simply retain our positions is producing at least enough income to live.  Whereas the salaried or hourly employee is given tasks and all of the means to accomplish those tasks and is then rewarded with a set income, we salespeople are given a task, many times without the means to accomplish it, and then must create our own reward—be it large, small, or, God forbid, non-existent.

Not only do we have the fear of failure, but our failure may well have life altering consequences for numerous people.  Our fear of failure goes well beyond the personal disappointment, embarrassment, and depression of failing at a task.  Our failure literally puts our family in jeopardy.  Our failure means debt collector calls, reposed autos, foreclosed homes, and no food on the table.

In addition, often, like my new client, we have a very short period of time to either succeed or fail.  Time is an ever present enemy.  We hear the clock ticking—even in our sleep.  We wake up to one more day gone, one more day closer to the ultimate consequences of our actions.

Yet, that ticking of the clock can be either our chief motivator—or the cause of our paralyses.  For most salespeople, time is a dominate factor in our actions.  We either find the clock a massive kick in the pants that moves us—forces us— forward and we find the strength, creativity, and determination to succeed; or we become mesmerized by the metronomic ticking, incapable of productive movement as we watch the hands of the clock inexorably move toward our final hour as a salesperson. 

Even after we get over the hump and begin to establish a consistent monthly commission income, the clock ticks away.  A slump, a slowing economy, an unexpected illness, and a hundred other factors can catapult us back to the edge of the precipice of joblessness and financial crisis. 

As a salesperson, we must prove ourselves each month, each week, each day, each hour.  The clock is unforgiving.  That mortgage is due on the first of each month, no matter what your previous month’s sales were like.  The bank expects their car payment, utilities must be paid, and food must be bought. 

How do you beat this relentless, heartless enemy?  The simple answer, though massively difficult for many, is action.  Selling is a high energy, fast moving sport.  More akin to jai-alai than baseball or football, it requires a tremendous amount of concentration, dedication, and mental and physical activity. 

A more accurate and precise answer is that it is through well thought-out, highly targeted action.  Many salespeople mistake simple action for progress.  Action, though crucial, is hardly enough.  Undisciplined, random action contributes to our failure just as surely as inaction does.

What is targeted, disciplined action?  Targeted, disciplined action is action that directly contributes to putting prospects in our pipeline and clients in our database.  In simple terms–prospecting, making sales presentations, signing contracts, and handling client issues.  Everything else—all of the designing of fliers, organizing of files, making of lists, reading and studying product brochures, and all of the other “stuff” we do, may directly result in our failure.

Not that these other things aren’t important–they are;  but they are simply secondary to our primary mission, and they don’t contribute to our success in a meaningful manner if performed during selling hours.  If engaged in during selling hours, these non-income producing activities hinder, rather than aid, our production.  These non-essential activities should be set aside and performed only when some direct selling activity isn’t possible.

In order to free ourselves for the activity of selling, we must have a plan in place that will allow us to spend our time and energy performing our four primary activities.  This means using our non-selling hours to formulate our future moves.  Instead of shuffling through stacks of leads or searching the internet for our next call as we sit at our desks “prospecting,” these activities should have been preformed the evening before, so our prospecting time is really spent prospecting, not doing prospecting research.  Instead of gathering our data sheets in preparation for making calls, they should have been gathered and put in a logical order during our non-selling time.  Instead of discussing marketing methods with the new salesperson in the next cubicle, we should have phone in one hand be dialing with the other.

It’s your money you’re leaving on the table.  If you don’t get it, someone else will.  If you wile away your time and choose to fail, you’re directly contributing to someone else’s success.  Success is a choice.  It’s a simple choice that takes great disciple and effort, but still a choice.  A tremendous number of highly talented people fail in sales every year—every month, in fact.  They simply choose to fail by making the wrong time choices.  They allow the clock to win.  On the other hand, many with little talent succeed simply because they were unwilling to fail.

A Few Quality Resources

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 7:21 am

I’m often asked if I know of any quality resources on the internet where salespeople can get additional quality information and help besides my site.  Fortunately, there are many.  I’ve listed a few below–this is certainly not a comprehensive list, but a pretty good start.  Click on the site name of each to go there:

EyesOnSales:  Eyes On Sales is a very large and growing database of excellent sales and management articles written by some of the top trainers, as well as some highly experienced salespeople.  You’ll find written articles, blogs by various trainers, and podcasts.  In addition, the site has a good selection of free e-books.

SalesPractice:  An active forum of salespeople and managers with topics running the gamut of sales and management topics.  Most of the posters are salespeople, not trainers.  In addition, the site has a selection of articles and podcasts.

MarketingProfs:  A very active forum of a little different nature.  Geared toward marketing rather than sales, the forum is an area where people can ask specific marketing–and some sales–questions and get responses from marketing experts.  As with all forums, the advice runs from junk to great–with far more good advice than junk.  In addition, there is a weekly newsletter with each issue featuring 5 quality marketing articles.  

American Insurance Forum for Brokers:  Insurance broker specific forum.  Somewhat active.  More active in the product areas than the sales topics.

Agents OnLine:  Active forum for real estate agents.  Covers a great variety of topics, including an area for individuals seeking advice about buying or selling from agents.

Power Referral Selling:  My sales training site with lots of free resources, including articles, training materials, database of research resources to research prospects and more.

 If you are aware of other good, active forums for salespeople–from any industry, or other quality resources, please let me know at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com and I’ll post them.

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