Why You Don’t Want a Level Playing Field

July 31st, 2018

Why You Don’t Want a Level Playing FieldPeople in business often use the cliché, “a level playing field” to express their desire for a fair and equitable marketplace in which to compete. But who the hell really wants that?

If you’re competing with four other companies for a customer and you each have a “fair” and “equal” chance of succeeding, that means you only have a 20% chance of closing the deal! Why would you settle for that???

If you want to boost your sales, you want to play on a field that is tilted in your favor. Preferably so slanted that you almost can’t help but win the business.

And the good news is that the ability to tilt the playing field lies firmly in your control! There are numerous ways you can ethically create an advantage in the marketplace, including:

• Better product or service
• Unique product or service
• Better marketing
• More marketing
• Better publicity
• Longer warranties
• Stronger guarantees
• More locations
• More convenience
• Larger selection
• More salespeople
• More sales training
• Longer hours
• More customer service people
• Better customer service policies
• More customer service training
• Faster response times
• Better customer experience
• More customer appreciation
• Better employee pay
• Better employee working conditions
• More community outreach
• More charity support

You can begin to improve any of these areas immediately. And you can get plenty of help in these endeavors. Hire a consultant to help improve your innovation, quality, or marketing. Bring in a speaker or trainer to train your sales and service teams. Hire a coach to work with your leaders to enable them to create a more effective, more successful, more profitable company.

Please note that I am by no means suggesting that you should lie, cheat, or do anything illegal to give yourself an edge. Unethical behavior has no place in business.

What I am suggesting is that you look for ways to outperform your competitors. How can you make your company the clear choice, the easy choice, the obvious choice? How can you raise your organization so far above the competition that they wish they had a level playing field?

18 Sales Tips from Influence ‘18

July 24th, 2018

18-sales-tips-from-influence-182018 not only marks twenty years of me being a sales trainer and keynote speaker, it also marks twenty years of my membership in the National Speakers Association. So it was fitting that last week I attended my 20th NSA convention, known as Influence 2018.

More than 1200 of the world’s top professional speakers and trainers gathered for four days to connect with and learn from each other. The result—as always—was an amazing outpouring of business insights and ideas.

Here, in no particular order, are eighteen of the best:

1. “Free content lives forever.”—David Meerman Scott (@dmscott
Advertising disappears as soon as it is consumed. (And often skipped altogether.) But content—usable, valuable, insightful, practical information—sticks around, is shared, and gets recycled over and over again. Invest more in content creation.

2. “The narrower you focus your message, the broader your message will go.”—Tamsen Webster (@tamadear
Nobody can be all things to all people. And trying will only waste your time, energy, and budget. Instead, identify your ideal customers and craft messages aimed specifically at them. When your message resonates, it has impact.

3. “When you evoke emotion you evoke engagement.”—Scott Stratten (@unmarketing
Every aspect of the buying process is emotional, from our initial desires and fears, to our satisfaction after the purchase. People don’t react to numbers and logic, they react to appeals to their emotions. So how can you evoke emotion in your marketing and sales efforts?

4. “Ubuntu: I am because you are.”—Lenora Billings-Harris (@LBHdiversity
This African philosophy carries special importance for business owners and professionals: We only exist because our customers do. If they go away, so do we. Which means we need to truly appreciate our clients and do everything in our power to take care of them. (This also goes for employees and employers: each only exists because of the other. We all need each other.)

5. “There is no one way to create art.”—Michael Port (@michaelport
Many sales “experts” will argue that there is only one way to succeed. Don’t believe it. There are lots of ways to prospect, to build rapport, to deliver powerful presentations, and to close deals. Find the strategies and tactics that work for you.

6. “Spend the most time possible on the highest income-generating activities.”—Andy Masters (@andy_masters
Whether you’re a salesperson or a business owner, there is no end to the items on your To-Do list. But you only have a limited amount of time to work with. So to achieve maximum success, you need to devote as much time as possible on those activities that lead to revenue. Outsource, delegate, or ignore everything else.

7. “Different is better than better.”—Sally Hogshead (@SallyHogshead
Everyone strives to be better. But in a crowded marketplace, “better” is not only relative, it can easily get lost. And the reality is, everybody claims to be better! Put more emphasis on being different to stand out and gain more attention.

8. “Whatever makes you part from money…learn it.”—Geoff Ramm (@GeoffRamm
There are examples of fantastic sales and marketing strategies and tactics all around you. Notice the things that capture your attention and cause you to spend money. Why did they work? How can you use or adapt those approaches?

9. “Over-index on social proof, because it makes everything else easier.”—Dorie Clark (@dorieclark
Social proof is a powerful influencer and the more of it you have, the more sales you’ll make. Make use of testimonials, case studies, articles, awards, rankings, your blog, and videos to increase your social proof capital.

10. “Let’s not focus on doing more. Let’s focus on doing less, but better, and focus on what matters.”—Dan Thurmon (@DanThurmon
Often we think the answer to boosting our sales is to offer more products, more services, more options. But sometimes offering less is better, when it allows us to be exceptional at the things we do offer.

11. “Paint a tiny picture of the pain your audience is having.”—Kelly Swanson (@motivationspkr
People make buying decisions to solve problems. So describe the problem your prospect is dealing with in your marketing, your prospecting, and your sales presentations. Identify and empathize with their pain, and then paint a picture of how their new pain-free life will look after they’ve bought your solution.

12. “I can’t learn from my mistakes if I don’t admit them.”—Lance Miller (@LanceSpeaks
Too often we blame our failures on everything but ourselves. It’s easy to do, and it protects our egos. But it prevents growth. Because only by acknowledging our mistakes can we learn from them and actually get better.

13. “Don’t sell direct, sell ‘select.’ Look for select clients that have the WALLET, the WILL, and are looking for the WAY.”—Anna Liotta (@annaliotta
Not all prospects are created equal. A person who has a need may be tempting, but if they can’t afford you or lack the motivation to act, you’re just wasting your time. Your best prospects are those who have the budget to buy and the desire to make a change.

14. “If you’re getting the business you want, you’re obsolete.”—Mike Rayburn (@mikerayburn
It’s so easy to get complacent. Especially when you’re hitting your goals and everything is working just as you hoped it would. Yet the marketplace is constantly evolving, and if you aren’t constantly looking for ways to evolve as well, you’re going to get left behind.

15. “The way we celebrate our leaders is not by giving them a blank slate, it’s by holding them accountable.”—Dr. Omekongo Dibinga (@omekongo
In most organizations, leaders hold subordinates accountable. But for an organization to be successful, leaders also need to be held accountable. Does your organization encourage and empower employees to hold their superiors accountable?

16. “You sell an experience. You sell an outcome.”—Meredith Oliver (@MeredithCSP
When people buy a product or service, it’s not because they actually want that item. The product or service is a means to an end. What is the goal they’re trying to achieve or the problem they’re trying to solve? That’s what you’re really selling.

17. “You are competing with EVERYTHING for people’s attention.”—Jay Baer (@jaybaer
The media landscape is more crowded than ever before, which means people’s time and attention are at more of a premium than ever before. If you want to be heard, you need a truly compelling message. And that message needs to be both targeted and convenient.

18. “Stop substituting learning for action. Start doing.”—Lisa Braithwaite (@LisaBraithwaite
Learning is great. In fact, it’s necessary for growth and success. But it’s only the first step. Unless you implement what you’ve learned, you’re no better off than if you hadn’t learned it in the first place. Put your new knowledge to work!

For more ideas and insights from these great speakers, click on their names to visit their web sites or click on their handles to follow them on Twitter.

Need a great speaker for your next event? Check out the NSA website or your favorite speakers bureau. (Or just click here.)

16 Ways to Deal with Frustration

July 9th, 2018

14-Ways-to-Deal-with-FrustrationThe road to success isn’t straight, level, or smooth. There are bumps and potholes. Hills and curves. Dead-ends and detours.

And as a result, we all get frustrated from time to time. What separates top salespeople—and high achievers in general—from everyone else, is that they don’t let frustration derail them. They find ways to deal with the frustrations in their lives and their work.

And you can be one of them, by utilizing the same tactics to overcome frustrating situations. Here are sixteen of them.

1. Listen to Music
Your favorite music can quickly change your emotional state and re-energize you. Keep some good music (and if necessary, headphones) nearby at all times.

2. Revisit past successes
When you’re frustrated, it’s easy to doubt yourself. So remind yourself how good you are by going over past victories. The person who achieved those accomplishments can achieve more.

3. Talk with someone
Sometimes the simple act of verbalizing our frustrations can help us deal with them. And often when describing our challenges to others, we discover they have the exact same problems! That in and of itself can help us feel better, because at least we’re not alone.

4. Take a break
Getting away from the source of your frustration can help you cope with it. Depending on how big your frustration is—and your circumstances—your break might be a few minutes, a day, a week, or even a year.

5. Treat yourself
What makes you happy? What brings you instant joy? Whether it’s getting some ice cream, watching a movie, playing with your dog, reading a romance novel, grabbing a latte—anything that lights up the pleasure center of your brain will reduce the stress hormones you’re experiencing, enabling you to tackle your challenge with fresh energy and a better mindset.

6. Do something physical
Engaging in physical activity does two things for you. First, it gets you away from the problem, which can be a relief. And second, the exercise increases blood flow, oxygen delivery, and endorphins, alleviating some of the stress.

7. Read, watch, or listen to something inspirational
Some inspiring or encouraging words can break you out of a funk and give you fresh perspective. And there’s no shortage of inspirational blogs, podcasts, and videos online. (Most of which are free.)

8. Brainstorm
For some people, there’s no better way to cope than to deal directly with the problem that’s causing the frustration in the first place. Grab your computer, tablet, or phone—or if you’re old school, pen and paper—and start brainstorming possible solutions to the issue at hand.

9. Meditate
Meditation is a proven technique to relax the body and clear the mind. There are numerous resources and tutorials available at bookstores, local centers, and online.

10. Pray
If you’re the religious type, tap into to the power of prayer. You might pray for calm, strength, guidance, perseverance, or anything else you need to overcome the challenges you’re facing. And consider talking about your frustrations with your spiritual advisor.

11. Do a gratitude inventory
No matter how bad things get, there are always some things to be grateful for. “Count your blessings” may be a cliché, but it works. Make a list of things in your life you’re grateful for. It will change your perspective and improve your mental state.

12. Hone your skills
Perhaps you’re frustrated because you don’t have the knowledge or skills to effectively deal with the issue at hand. If that’s the case, learn more! Get a book on dealing with difficult people. Attend a sales training seminar. Take an online course. Then put that new knowledge to work!

13. Bring in an expert
Everyone sucks at something. And if that something is driving you crazy and negatively impacting your life or business, you need to offload it to someone who’s good at it. It could be an assistant, a professional organizer, an accountant, a COO, or any other person with a skill set you don’t possess.

14. Try something completely different
If something isn’t working, maybe it’s time for a radically different approach. That could mean trying a new sales tactic, going after a different market, or even changing companies.

15. Seek out a mentor or coach
Nobody succeeds alone. And if you’re struggling, maybe that’s a sign you need to get some help in the form of a coach or mentor. A different, more experienced perspective may be exactly what you need to conquer what’s frustrating you.

16. Get rid of the source
If what’s causing you frustration is a difficult client or a toxic person, your best bet is to get rid of them. You’re never going to change them and they will continue to drain your time and energy as long as you let them.

The next time frustration gets you down, don’t succumb to it. Use these sixteen ideas to get past it, so you can continue on your path to success.

Are You Scary Enough?

July 2nd, 2018

Are-You-Scary-EnoughMost of the time, we salespeople want to be warm, friendly, and caring. We want to be liked and well-received. But warm and fuzzy doesn’t always get the job done. Sometimes, we need to be scary.

Because sometimes prospects don’t appreciate the dangers of not acting. Other times, they’re afraid of the wrong thing.

In situations like that, it’s our job to scare them straight.

What should your prospect really be afraid of? What are the dangers of not acting? Or delaying action? Or buying too cheap? Or buying from the wrong company?

You can use fear to your advantage by educating your prospect about risks they may or may not be aware of, and how you can reduce or eliminate those risks. Much has been written about the fact that the human brain tends to underestimate genuine risks and overestimate unlikely risks. So odds are, your prospect needs you to help them gain the right perspective on the various risks they face in their lives and businesses.

Stoking fear about a legitimate risk is a valid—and often necessary—sales tactic. And there are a lot of fears you can stoke. Including:

• Missing out
• Their competitor gaining an advantage
• Downtime
• Losing sales
• Making a mistake
• Wasting money
• Being the victim of a crime
• Running out
• Image being tarnished
• Price going up
• Health problems
• Their current model breaking down
• Employee turnover
• Failure
• Being left behind
• Interest rates rising
• Clowns (just making sure you’re paying attention)
• Liability
• Tragedy befalling a loved one
• Death

This is not to say that fear should be the first sales tool you pull out of your toolbox. And to frighten someone needlessly is unethical of course. But used strategically, tapping into a buyer’s fears can motivate them to action when nothing else can.

All buying is emotional at its core. And fear is a powerful emotion. It can block the sale or it can trigger the sale. Which one is up to you.