Sales and Sales Management Blog

January 31, 2010

Book Review: Selling Change: 101+ Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change by Brett Clay

Filed under: Book Reviews,sales,Sales Process,selling — Paul McCord @ 11:16 am
Tags: , , ,

Change is a natural part of all life and, consequently, a natural part of our sales lives.  Nothing is static; not our products, not our prospects, not our clients, and certainly not our competitors.  Change is the only constant.  But surprisingly enough, change as a central theme of selling has seldom been addressed head-on.  Brett Clay in Selling Change: 101+ Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change (ARIVA Publishing; 2010) changes that.  As you can tell by the title of the book, change is the central theme of his sales philosophy.

Clay argues that our job as a seller isn’t to sell a product or service as a solution to a problem or issue but rather to understand the change forces taking place within the organization or individual and then show how our solution changes the organization or individual for the better, that is, how we not only solve a problem but at the same time advance the goals of the organization or individual.

Although not a new idea, Clay’s format for relaying the idea makes it easy to understand the steps in turning selling from a simple solution orientation to a change management orientation.  Rather than lengthy chapters of detail and endless discussion, Clay has divided the book into 107 “secrets” which are themselves divided into 5 sections which together make up what he calls the Change Leadership Framework®:

  • Force Field Analysis:  Which asks what change force is the customer feeling?
  • Change Response Analysis: Understanding how the customer is responding to this change force.
  • Power Analysis:  What effort will the customer have to undertake to make the necessary change?
  • Value Creation:  What value will the customer experience from the change?
  • Change Actuation:  How will the change be made?

Each “secret” then has its own short, two-page chapter broken into three parts:

  • What I Need To Know: a brief description of the secret
  • What I Need To Do: an action that must be taken based on what you now know
  • Action Summary:  a couple of bullet points about what you just learned

The 107 secrets range from the obvious such as “No One Needs Your Product,” to the obscure such as “Stay Away from Turtles,” to the critical such as “Where There Is Change, There Is Conflict.”  Each new secret builds upon the previously explored secrets. 

If you’re looking for a change primer, Selling Change is an excellent starting point.  If you’re more advanced, I’d recommend Sharon Drew Morgen’s Dirty Little Secrets instead as it is currently the definitive book on change management within the purchasing process. 

Selling Change’s great asset is its simple to read basic content laid out in such a manner as to make both reading and implementation easy.  In fact, the only drawbacks to the book are that it is too basic in some areas where I’d like to see the secret explored in more detail (difficult to do when each is relegated to only two pages) and–as a purely personal issue with the book–Clay quotes himself several times, a practice I find very irritating and in poor taste. 

The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine booksellers.

HELP!

My article “Sales Call Reports–Are They Worth the Hassle?” has made it to the finals for Sales Article of the Month for February at Top 10 Sales Articles.  I’ve got tough competition from Dr. Tony Alessandra, Keith Rosen, Lee Salz, Kevin Eikenberry, Danita Bye and others.  To win, I need your vote.  Half of the selection of the winner is based on reader votes; the other half based on votes by a panel of professional sales trainers and consultants.  I’d appreciate it if you’d hope over to Top 10 Sales Articles, read the 10 finalists and vote for the one you believe best (mine, of course).

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January 29, 2010

Want Referrals? Find Them, Then Have Your Client Give Them to You

Most of us who sell would love to get a number of quality referrals from each of our clients.  The reality for most of us is we seldom get referrals, and when we do, they’re usually no better than if we’d picked a name or company at random from the phonebook.

Asking For Referrals Will Get You Nowhere
Most of us have been taught to get referrals by simply doing a “good job” and then asking for referrals after the sale has been completed—often literally as we’re walking out the door or during a post-sale follow-up phone call.  We pop the referral question on our client and are then surprised and frustrated when they don’t have a quality referral to give.

We shouldn’t be. 

Instead we should be amazed when one does give us a quality referral because what we’re doing is inherently unfair to our client.  We’ve given the client no time to become comfortable giving referrals; we haven’t defined for the client who a good referral for us is; we’ve not given them a reason to give us referrals; and we’re asking them to do our job for us. 

I’ve questioned thousands of sellers over the years about their closing ratio of referred prospects vs. the closing ratio of their non-referred prospects.  Sad to say, in general the closing ratio of referred prospects is about the same—only slightly higher—as the closing ratio of the prospects they’ve contacted through other means such as cold calling.  What does that mean?  It means the quality of the prospects they receive from referrals is no better than the quality of prospects they generate through other means.  It means that when they get a name and phone number from their clients all they are getting is a name and phone number, not a quality referral.

Yet, we want quality referrals from them.

Your Clients Have Quality Referrals to Give
Almost all of us has gotten at least one great referral from a client.   We know our clients have referrals to give if we could just figure out how to get them.

The problem is that our clients really don’t know whom to refer, and even if we define for them who a great referral for us is, most of our clients simply don’t think of those prospects that we’d love to be referred to.

It isn’t their fault.  It isn’t their job to do our job for us.

But we really want those referrals they have.

Make It Easy to Give Referrals
How do we get those great referrals our clients have that they don’t think to give us?

We do it by making it so easy to give us quality referrals that we walk away from our client with three, four, five or more great referrals and all our clients had to do was say, “Yes, I know them.”

We get lots of great referrals by doing our homework, by discovering who our client knows—or probably knows—that we know we’d like to be referred to. 

We do the work for our client.

Become a Referral Detective
Doing the work for your client means you have to become a detective; you have to use your eyes and ears to ferret out who your client knows, or you have reason to believe may know, that you know you want to be referred to. 

For most sellers this is a tough assignment. How can you possibly discover who your client could refer you to?  Can you get into their head or sneak in and take a look at their Rolodex?

In a sense, that is exactly what you do.  You use your senses to figure out who you know you want to be referred to that you client may well know that at the proper time, instead of asking for referrals, getting none and walking out empty-handed, you ask your client if they know the people on your list.  If they do and you’ve earned the referrals, you’ll get them.  So instead of walking out with no referrals, you walk out with three or four or more referrals to people or companies you know you want to be referred to.

Sources of Referrals
Where do you find these potential referrals?  Everywhere.  You must be ever on the lookout for potential connections your client has.  Literally from the moment you meet a new prospect you’re looking for clues to who they may know. 

Here are some ways to discover who your client may know:

  1. Talk.  Asking casual questions about their background, their hobbies, their neighborhood, their workplace during small talk can turn up some great connections.  Former employers, the organizations they belong to, where they spend their time can reveal many potential connections you can explore.
  2. Observe. If you’re meeting them in their office or place of business make sure you look around.  What organization’s membership book is on their bookshelf?  What plaques and photos do they have on the wall?  Are there signs of who their vendors or customers are such as boxes, envelopes, or business cards?
  3. Internet.  Look them up on LinkedIn.  Who are their connections?  Who else from their company is on LinkedIn?  Do they have a blog?  Are they on Facebook or Twitter?  Who are their followers?  What do they blog about?  Examine their company’s website—are there potential prospects you can find there?  Are they likely known by your client?
  4. Think of their professional connections.  If your client is an architect, what other architects do you want to be referred to that they may know?  If your client owns a franchise, are there other franchises of the same company around that your client probably knows? 
  5. Think of their family and social connections.  Do they have family members you know you want to be referred to?  Are there people in their neighborhood or within the same business park you know you want to be referred to?  Are there people involved in the same charity they’re involved with?

For most of us, if we really put our mind to it we could come up with many potential referral prospects for each of our clients.  It isn’t easy, at least not at first.  You have to get your mind into the habit of thinking about whom your client may know that you know you want to be referred to.  You have to train yourself to think like a detective—always questioning what you see and what it means for who your client knows.

But the payoff can be tremendous.

Quit just asking for referrals.  Learn to be a detective and both the quality and quantity of the referrals you get from your clients will go outta sight.

January 23, 2010

Keep Your Client in the Loop After You Get the Referral

Congratulations, you’ve just received several referrals from one of your clients.  Great job!  But hold on, you’re work has just started.  No, I’m not talking about contacting and selling the referred prospect, I’m talking about keeping your client in the loop.

One of the primary reasons clients are hesitant to give referrals is that they are afraid of being embarrassed in front of a friend, relative, acquaintance or co-worker by you not performing as you should.  So, when they do give a referral, they have a vested interest in what’s going on between you and the prospect.  Not in the sense of whether or not the prospect purchases, but in how the prospect perceives you and the value being referred by the client.

When a client gives you a referral, you learn a number of things:

  1. The client will give referrals.  Obviously, you just received one or more.
  2. How well the client understands what you do.  The quality of the referral will let you know how well your client understands what you do and who is a good referral for you.  The better the referral, the more the client understands.  The poorer the referral, the more work you must do to educate them for future referrals (and future sales to them for that matter).
  3. How much they trust you.  Generally, the stronger the trust relationship between the client and the referred prospect, the more the client trusts you. 
  4. They have more referrals to give.  Seldom will a client give you all of the referrals they can make at one time.  If a client gives referrals, you can almost bet they have more to give—if you keep earning them.

How do you get those additional referrals?  Additional referrals are earned, just as the original referrals were earned.  You earn those additional referrals by:

  1. Giving your client the assurance that you’re trustworthy with referrals.  You must show through your actions that their trust in giving you a referral was well placed by making sure that the referred prospect has an exceptional experience with you.
  2. By keeping your client fully informed of everything that is occurring with the referred prospect.
  3. By continuing to deliver superior service to your client.

Does the above mean that you must perform perfectly with the referred prospect?  What if there was an honest mistake or miscommunication?  What if something out of your control happened during the course of the sale?  Will these incidents destroy any possibility of acquiring additional referrals?

No, not at all.

The keys to gaining additional referrals from a client are to treat the referred prospect exactly in the same manner you treated the client and to keep your client informed of what is transpiring between yourself and the referred prospect.

Your client gave you referrals because they understood that giving referrals was in their own best interests and because you earned them through the service, you gave them.  You must now demonstrate that same level of service for the referral they have given you.  They expect—actually demand—you perform at the same level—or higher—for those they refer to as you did for them.  That level of service you gave them was what demonstrated to them that they could trust with a referral.  Anything short of that and they will reevaluate whether you should be trusted with additional referrals.

That having been said, clients understand that mistakes, miscommunications, and problems arise in business.  A single issue during the course of the sale to a referred prospect, even a major issue, will not sever your ability to gain additional referrals from you client if you address and resolve the issue in an exceptional manner.

Clients don’t expect perfection, they expect exceptional service—both for themselves and for those they refer you to.  How well or poorly you handle the issues will be a major factor in determining your future refer-ability.

Keeping your client informed of the progress of the sale with the referred prospect reassures them that you’re doing your job—and that all is well.  It is also your source of informing them if there have been problems and how they were resolved. 

It is critical that you let your client know of issues involved with sales to prospects they have referred you to before the prospect has a chance to relate the incident.  You can relate the circumstances and the resolution in the most favorable light—the prospect may not.  This doesn’t mean that you can lie or gloss over it, just that you can give the background and the full resolution without the emotional involvement the prospect will have.  Of course, if you’ve done an exceptional job of resolving the issue, the tale told by the prospect should also be impressive.  However, you always want problems to be related to your client by you—you don’t want to get a phone call from the client asking what happened.

Keeping your client informed doesn’t mean bombarding them with emails, phone calls, and notes.  A simple “thank you for the referral” card immediately after receiving the referral and the occasional call or email will suffice.  The object is to keep them in the loop and to reassure them that their referral was well made for both you and the prospect.  Even better than the occasional call or email is to explicitly ask the client how and how often they would like to be informed of the progress.

Clients are interested in what’s going on with the referrals they make.  They want to know the prospect is being taken care of in the manner the client expected, and they enjoy knowing that they have provided you with a quality referral.  More importantly, they want to know that they haven’t embarrassed themselves in front of an acquaintance.

Simple actions will earn those additional referrals your clients have—you just have to earn them.

January 19, 2010

Guest Article: “Why Customer Service Destroys Salespeople,” by Mark Hunter

Filed under: Customer Service,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:30 am
Tags: , , ,

Why Customer Service Destroys Salespeople
by Mark Hunter

One position that has not been impacted by the economy is sales.  Ask any CEO and you will hear that one of their biggest issues is finding and retaining good salespeople. Something happened on the way to a sour economy: Too many companies learned the hard way that their salespeople didn’t know how to sell. Instead, their salespeople were good at taking orders and providing customer service.  There is nothing wrong with this approach, as long as the marketplace is always going to serve up new customers and keep current customers in business. Does that kind of marketplace always exist? Unfortunately, no.

As a sales consultant who works with a wide number of companies, I am not surprised with the current state of sales.  In the past 20 years, books and soothsayers have inundated us with advice saying that the best way to grow your company is through great customer service. (Think of companies like Disney, Marriott and Honda, just to name a few).  These are certainly great companies, and I’m personally an avid customer of each one.  However, if great customer service is all that is needed to win, then why is each of these companies struggling in today’s economy?

I don’t offer up this example to generate an in-depth discussion on economics and market share.  Rather, I put it out there to say that customer service alone is not going to help a company achieve its growth targets.  It is essential for salespeople to be focused on selling as their first priority and providing customer service as their second priority.

Selling is about digging in and working with customers to help them see needs they didn’t realize they had.  It’s about helping customers see how the solution for which they are looking can be found in what you are offering.  Selling is not about sitting back and taking orders based on what the customer wants.  If that’s selling, then there really is no need for a salesperson.  The entire process could be done on the internet or over the phone.  I know that observation just hit a sore spot to many of you reading this. Possibly, you’ve watched your industry be decimated by the power of the web. Nowadays, many customers can get what they want, when they want it and how they want it, all through their computer.

If your job was lost because of the internet, then let me share something that you may not like to hear, but is simply true: you weren’t selling; you were merely taking orders.  I am not putting myself on a pedestal, because one of my first sales jobs I thought I was a salesperson (at least, that’s what my business card said). In reality, I was doing nothing more than going around to grocery stores and taking orders from store managers.  I wasn’t selling. I was conveying information and providing customer service.

Today’s economy is crying out for salespeople. Are you someone who is willing to be assertive in making phone calls, meeting with customers, and spending time doing what I refer as the “deep-dive” with high-potential prospects to secure the really big business.  If a salesperson is not willing to go face-to -face with a customer, then they have absolutely no right to be in sales.  The only thing they are doing is hurting themselves and their employer.  The fastest test I know to measure a person’s aptitude towards selling is to ask them to explain in detail how they develop leads and handle cold calls.

When a company looks to outsource the lead generation process, or spend so heavily in advertising to try to create enough leads for everyone, then they are setting themselves up to fail.  Over time they will wind up with a sales team focused on capturing the easy sales. They do this by making everything a customer service moment.  This is akin to a pro-athlete thinking because they are a professional, they no longer need to stick to a physical workout program.   When a pro-athlete stops their conditioning program, they may not experience a falloff in performance immediately. Over time, however, the decline will be evident. The same is true for salespeople who are not routinely in the game of prospecting and developing new customers. They will lose their edge. The decline will be so slow that they won’t realize it is happening, let alone why it is happening.

Each client with whom I have the privilege to work hears this message:  The responsibility of finding and retaining new customers is the responsibility of every employee.  Salespeople by the very nature of their position must take the lead and be assigned weekly, monthly and quarterly goals of prospecting calls they must make.  Management owes them the tools that encompass an effective sales process. This process must include employees outside of sales whose primary responsibility it is to provide customer service. After all, salespeople should focus first on selling.  They need the time to achieve this realistic expectation.

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability.  For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com.

January 17, 2010

Leading the Rapid Growth Organization

Filed under: Leadership — Paul McCord @ 4:09 pm
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“I started this company four years ago.  We’ve grown but not nearly as quickly as I envisioned, and honestly, we really can’t grow right now because we just don’t seem to have the processes and procedures in place and I feel I’m stretched to the breaking point.  I see exactly where we need to be going and how we can blow away the competition; I just can’t figure out how to get there.”

Although that’s a direct quote from a recent conversation with the owner of a service business in Omaha, I’ve had that same conversation with more small and mid-size business owners and CEO’s than I can remember.  They believe they have the right product or service, the right market, and the vision of where they want to go and wonder why things don’t seem to be falling in line.

Obviously there could be a number of common, identifiable issues that are hindering their growth and success—and there usually are a number of them.  But in many cases I find most issues emanate from a much more fundamental issue within the organization—leadership.

We often think of leadership as a single thing—the ability to get people to follow, to work towards a common goal.  Although that definition works on many levels, within an organization there are three types of leadership that are indispensible to create a rapidly growing, dynamic organization.  Although each leadership type is needed in mature organizations, they are mandatory in any organization that seeks rapid growth and expansion.  Without these three leaders, organizations seek to grow rapidly tend to struggle, and growth tends to be much slower than desired–and painful.

The Visionary Leader
At the heart of any rapid growth organization is a visionary; one who envisions what could and should be.  The visionary leader works more from inspiration and imagination than from the practical.  Boldness and the impossible are at the forefront not limited by conventional thinking or industry norms.  The visionary leader wants to create more than simply build; she wants to make something that hasn’t been before rather than simply make the existing better.  The visionary leader sees the future and wants to create it NOW. 

The Managerial Leader
Vision is wonderful but useless without someone who can take the vision and implement the structure that will allow the organization to turn the vision of what should be into what is.  Sometimes the visionary leader is quite capable as the managerial leader also; very often though that isn’t the case.  Often the very traits that make the visionary leader the visionary leader hinder him or her from also being the managerial leader.  Their ability to envision what isn’t, that is the imagination and ability to think unconventionally, stands in opposition to the down to earth practicality needed in the managerial leader.  The managerial leader is more than simply a good manager; the managerial leader has the ability to take a vision and turn it into processes and structures that move it from the realm of possible into the practical.   

The Implementation Leader
Just as vision leadership is useless without managerial leadership, it is completely impotent without a leader who can implement the vision—the one who can inspire and drive the organization to realize its potential, the one we so often think of when we think of a leader.  Many times the visionary leader’s passion transforms them into the implementation leader—but not always (think of those visionary leaders who started the company but who are not the CEO but are instead the head of research and development—or some tucked away department that no one even knows exists).  In many organizations the implementation leader is neither a creator nor manager but may instead come out of the ranks of marketing or sales.  The implementation leader is the company evangelist, the one who takes the vision and turns it into excitement, sales and growth.

An organization with all three leaders in place is capable of not only rapid growth but of having an immense impact on its market and community, at times changing the very nature of an industry—think Steve Jobs. 

The difficulty for any organization is finding and engaging a full complement of leadership.  Seldom are all three leadership types found in a single individual, although those individuals do exist.  More common are individuals who are both the visionary and implementation leader, although even that combination is by no means a given as there are many companies founded by a visionary leader whose success or failure depended ultimately on bringing in a managerial and implementation leader. 

Are you a visionary leader whose company is struggling?  Has your earth shattering vision failed to come to fruition?  Maybe like so many others, you’ve failed to recognize that your company’s success needs far more than your visionary leadership.  If you’re not a leader capable of leading in all three areas, recognize your limitations and find the additional leaders your organization needs.  Vision without the processes and procedures is no vision at all—just a farfetched dream.  Likewise without the implementation leader to lead the charge and create the gung-ho team, an organization stands little chance of reaching its full rapid growth potential. 

Rapid growth organizations call for a unique combination of leadership skills that few single individuals possess.  Consequently, the sign of the true visionary leader is their ability to envision a full leadership team within their organization and then find a way to turn that vision into reality.

January 12, 2010

January 8, 2010

Guest Article: “5 Fundamentals to Help Others Achieve Success,” by Kurt Theriault

5 Fundamentals to Help Others Achieve Success
by Kurt Theriault

It’s All About Them!

Managers often express how much they enjoy coaching because it provides the opportunity to help others become successful.  Yet various surveys, used to analyze the growing turnover trend, indicate that insufficient management support is a leading reason employees leave a job.  The best way to address this is to get managers focused on two key ideas: always provide value to each employee during every interaction, and make sure it is provided from the employee’s perspective.  This is only possible when a manager coaches from a mindset of making every interaction “all about them.”

Here are the 5 fundamental drivers for being “all about them.”

1.  Convey through action one’s commitment to helping others
Never miss an opportunity to help an individual improve.  Seizing every opportunity to point out things that are being done well and encouraging continuity is essential.  Likewise, it is vital to immediately address situations that need improvement.  Discuss why something is not happening and quickly problem solve together to drive needed change.  Be laser-beam focused on improvement, knowing that if progress isn’t made, an individual loses.

2.  Know and leverage each individual’s passions and motivations.
Take advantage of the fundamental truth that individuals do things for their own reasons. Help each person know how job tasks and requirements contribute to achieving the things most valued to them. Start by discovering what each individual wants most from the job.  Doing this is easy – simply ask and talk about it, individual by individual.

3.  Be versatile with different communication styles.
Communication synergy is vital to effective teaching. Reducing communication tension is also a managing must.  This makes it possible to have productive listening, comprehension, practice, and execution.  Be willing and ready to adjust to the styles of others in order to establish a productive communication setting.   If an individual prefers a faster pace, speed up the communication. If an individual requires more information before action, provide it.  Whatever individual adjustments are needed to improve learning, adapt the communication style to provide them.

4.  Have the courage and perseverance to do what must be done.
People are motivated by different things, learn different ways, and respond differently to various tactics. It takes incredible fortitude and multiple approaches to break through resistance. Challenge individuals to change and to rise to the next level of performance.  Often this is neither fun nor easy. Just take on the issue.  Great coaches know it’s more painful to be responsible for someone’s failure than to tackle the issues and tactics that may have a chance to help.  Keep coming at it over and over again. Focus on the outcome and celebrate every achievement milestone. Do not accept giving up.  Tolerate trying, use problem solving as a tool, make practice the means, and joyously celebrate execution.

5.  Measure success by how individuals view the value provided.
There are only two ways coaches know they add value.  One is by noticing performance improvement and success.  The other is through direct feedback regarding received value.  Measurement must be independent of how a coach feels about the value provided.  The best way to measure effective coaching is to directly ask if value has been provided.  Always check to make sure the right things are happening for each individual.  Covet direct feedback and quickly adjust to guarantee improvement.

Evidence is strong. Individuals leave jobs because managers fail to meet expectations.  Effective leaders exceed employee expectations.  They focus leadership on being about others rather than themselves.  As we get better at making sure our actions deliver value, we in turn receive the reward – those we coach succeed and stay. What could be better?

Kurt Theriault is Senior Partner and Chief Marketing Officer of Business Efficacy, a consultancy founded 16 years ago to help companies turn strategies and goals into measurable results.  Kurt has spent the past 13 years in sales, sales management, professional development, marketing and consulting. He is responsible for business and product development and helping spread the word about Business Efficacy’s belief in the importance of sales management’s role in driving sales execution.  Visit Business Efficacy’s website.

January 7, 2010

Guest Article: “Send Me a Proposal,” by Chris Lytle

Filed under: Closing Sales,sales,selling,time management — Paul McCord @ 12:50 pm
Tags: , ,

“Send Me a Proposal”
By Chris Lytle

Wow, they must be serious — they want to see a proposal. You’ll think differently after you check out this advice.

Here are four words you really don’t want to hear: “Send me a proposal.”

If you have made a good presentation and the prospect has a problem you can solve, then you want the prospect to write you a check. That would be a better outcome than going back to your desk and writing a proposal, wouldn’t it?

Too many salespeople stop selling as soon as a prospect says, “Send me a proposal.” They take it is a buying signal and believe they have had a “great call.” Whenever a salesperson tells me, it was a “great call,” I know instantly that he didn’t get an order.

“Send me a proposal” is either a buying signal or a stall. In either case, a prospect’s saying those four words is not a reason to abort the conversation, pack up your briefcase and drive back to your office. Not without asking a few more questions.

How I saved myself from a writing assignment
I sell sales training. I am on the phone with a person I haven’t done business with for ten years. I have just shown him my latest plan for developing his team of salespeople. He is excited about The Automatic Sales Improvement Process I have just presented to him. It’s a way for his sales managers to run more powerful sales meetings. His top sales guy is on the conference call and is also supportive.

I should add that it’s a $4860 decision, which in this prospect’s world is relatively minor.

But then, my prospect says, “Send me a proposal on this.”

“That’s not a problem,” I said. “I can lay out the terms and conditions in writing. You have seen everything I offer. Do you think it will help?”

“Yes, it definitely gives us some consistency in developing our team.”

“And you have, or can find, the money?” I asked.

“If you can give me a couple of payments in the $1,900 range, I can keep this off the corporate radar. I can sign off on it.”

“Then, do you need a proposal or should I just send an invoice?” I asked.

“Send the invoice. We’ll go ahead with it,” he said.

With three more questions, I saved myself another writing assignment, solved my prospect’s problem and closed a sale.

Have you ever written a proposal you didn’t have to write? Worse yet, have you ever worked for hours on a proposal and, then, had the prospect quit taking your calls or responding to your e-mails?

“Send me a proposal” are four words that you don’t want to hear. If you do hear them, ask enough questions so you know what they really mean.

The one that got away
I believe you learn as much from your failures as your successes. Most sales trainers don’t want to admit they don’t close them all. Let me share this failure and see if you can relate.

I guess I shocked a group of prospects recently. In the middle of a conference call, I said to them, “I give up.” They were putting up a lot resistance to what I was proposing. There were three of them and I could feel that I was merely starting to argue instead of selling or solving their problem.

“Uncle,” I said. It’s okay if you don’t want to buy this. I give up.”

It is interesting to observe what happens when you reject a prospect before they reject you. One person on the call told me I couldn’t quit, thus starting a new argument. I opted out. I felt bad that I couldn’t convince them and good that I stopped trying to force the issue.

That morning, I had called another person who was “too busy” to talk to me even though we had a calendar appointment. “I understand,’ I said. “Do you want me to quit calling you completely? It is not my intent to bother you or waste your time.” This prospect “opted in” and we have another calendar meeting in a week.

Pursuing someone who doesn’t want to be pursued is stalking. I think there are laws about that.

Have you ever rejected a prospect before they rejected you?

Have you ever asked a prospect if they wanted to “opt out” of the process?

You don’t have to close every deal to be successful. If a deal is not right for both of you, it’s okay to walk away.

Chris Lytle is a Chicago-based information entrepreneur who has cracked the code on delivering sales development ideas that move the needle. He would be happy to discuss The Automatic Sales Improvement Process with you. Call him at 773-278-2728. Or visit his site

January 5, 2010

Increase Your Sales and Productivity in 2010

Filed under: sales,Sales Resources,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:46 am
Tags: , , ,

My friend Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools has just released a great new ebook, Increase Sales Productivity in 2010: Sales tools and the path to productivity gains that you can get right now for free.

Nancy lays out for you a ton of great sales tools that will help you or your sales team increase productivity, sales, and most importantly, income.

Nancy will introduce you to tools to:

  • Help you generate more leads
  • Make better presentations
  • Save time and energy
  • Organize your client and prospect follow-up
  • Be a better manager

And lots more.

Hop on over and claim your copy.  Registration is necessary but that’s such as small price to pay for such a great resource.

Register and download you copy HERE

January 4, 2010

A New Year, a New Decade: Turn the Possible into the Actual

Today, Monday January 4, is not only the start of a new business year but a new decade as well.  Whether you’re a top producer or on the bottom of your company’s sales board, whether you‘re an old pro or fresh out of school, you start today, this year, this decade with the opportunity to create a completely new future.  

Maybe 2009 wasn’t what you wanted it to be—that is certainly the case for a great many of us.

Maybe the 21st century hasn’t lived up to your expectations yet.

Put all of that behind you now. 

The Timing is Right for Actualizing the Possible
I’m not a mystic, but there are times when there seems to be a shift in the universe, where what was, no longer has to be, and where the possible really can become the actual. 

Of course, we preach turning the possible into the actual all the time, irrespective of the day, the year, the decade.  And it is true, we can turn the possible into the actual at anytime.  But the turn of the decade seems to present a unique opportunity, one where change seems to come a little easier and where the impact of change seems more dramatic.  It’s a natural time for new beginnings.

The Change You Want Won’t Happen by Accident
Even though this is the year to turn your possibilities into actualities; it isn’t going to happen unless you make it happen.  Thomas Jefferson observed about his own life that “the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” 

You too can have luck smile upon you by doing what Jefferson did his entire life—make your own luck.  Jefferson was born into a family where he had money and status.  He could have just sat back and drifted along with few worries.  Instead, he saw possibilities for a new nation that would give citizens more freedom than nation had ever known.  He, like many of his contemporaries, wanted to turn that possibility into reality.  He invested his time, money, and energy, willing to risk everything he had—including his life–in order turn the possibility into actuality.  And his willingness to invest all he had resulted in changing his future from one of a soft, lazy gentleman of means to one of the most important figures in history.

Like Jefferson, you must be willing to make the commitment and the short-term sacrifice to turn your possibilities into reality.  Fortunately for us, we aren’t risking our life, just our time, energy, and at bit of our resources.  Nevertheless, turning our possibilities into reality can be just as life changing for us as fathering a new nation was for Jefferson.

  1. Figure Out Where You Want to Go:  Unless you know where you are going, you’re just drifting aimlessly—maybe you’ll drift somewhere you want to be, maybe you won’t.  Set specific, measurable goals.  At a minimum set goals for:
    1. Gross sales dollars
    2. Number of new clients
    3. Number of sales
    4. Monthly and annual income
  2. Figure Out Where You Need Help:  Examine your strengths and weaknesses, then figure out where you need specific help.  Is you weakness prospecting?  Maybe it’s building a relationship based on trust?  Possibly it’s in the area of persuasion.  Maybe you have several areas of concern.  If so, which area if improved would have the most immediate and/or dramatic impact on your career?
  3. Get Help NOW:  Now that you know where you need help, it’s time to put your time, energy, and money on the line—acquire the help.  Whether it’s a book, CD, webinar, seminar, or sales coach, don’t hesitate, get it and get it now.  Yes, you’ll have to work, you may well have to spend some of your hard earned cash, and you’ll have to change your behavior which is always hard to do.  In other words, it probably won’t be comfortable and there won’t be a guaranteed result. 
        Once you’ve overcome one area of weakness, start on another.  Although we never get to the point where we have perfected our sales skills, over time we will continue to get better and better.
  4. Eradicate Your Failure Demon:  Many of us have to deal with more than just weaknesses that limit our potential for success; we also must deal with a personal demon that is actively blocking us from success.  That demon can come in many forms.  It may be one that whispers “you can’t” or “that’s going to be hard, leave it until tomorrow.”  Once you believe the demon that you can’t, you can’t; once he convinces you to leave it until tomorrow, tomorrow will never come. 
        The “you can’t” and “leave it until tomorrow” demons haunt many of us, but even more common is the “you don’t deserve it” demon.  The “you don’t deserve it” demon takes our history and turns it into a bat to bludgeon us with.  Because we failed in the past, because we didn’t do this or that, because we don’t believe we’re good enough, because we don’t believe we’ve worked hard enough, because, because, because whatever, we don’t deserve to succeed.  The “you don’t deserve it” demon is incredibly powerful.  It can defeat the best training, the best product offering, the strongest success commitment.  It wears on us and influences us to unconsciously sabotage our potential success.
        If we want to succeed, we must defeat our failure demon, for, if we leave it to continue working on our psyche, we have little chance of success.  We must recognize our demon and then recognize that its argument is false—we can if we want to, we don’t have to put off until tomorrow what should be done today, and we do deserve success.  We must give ourselves permission to succeed—and then be ever mindful not to let our personal demon creep back in.
  5. Don’t Settle for Failure:  The above steps are critical but they’re still not enough.  You have to make the commitment to succeed.  Yes, you have to know where you’re going and you certainly have to improve your skills.  In addition you have to eradicate your failure demon.  But you still haven’t done enough.  You have to commit yourself to succeeding—to putting in the time and the effort, to seeing enough prospects, making enough presentations, signing enough contracts.  You have to be willing to not quit until you’ve met your goals. 
        Too many of us are willing to settle toward the end of the month for just getting close. We convince ourselves that we’ll make it up next month.  Of course, we don’t.  We just keep settling and the next thing you know; we need a miracle to meet our goals. Settling is just another word for failure.

Now is the time to make your possibility into your reality.  Take the steps necessary, commit yourself to improving your skills, eradicate your failure demon, and refuse to settle, and you’ll find that a new year and a new decade can create a new life for you and your family.

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