13 Ways to Sharpen Your Sales Skills

May 26th, 2020

13 Ways to Sharpen Your Sales SkillsWith COVID-related shutdowns, record unemployment numbers, and corporate bankruptcies on the increase, this may be the toughest sales environment any of us have ever experienced. Which means now, more than ever, you need your sales skills to be as robust as possible.

If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company with its own training department, now is the time to double down on the resources it has to offer.

But what if—like most of us—you don’t work for such a company? Or what if your company’s training department gets cut due to cost-saving measures? How can you improve your sales skills? Here are thirteen ways:

1. Read sales blogs

2. Read books on sales and related subjects

3. Read your industry’s magazine or newsletter

4. Watch training videos online

5. Listen to sales-related podcasts

6. Ask your sales manager to critique and coach you

7. Role-play with colleagues or your manager

8. Find a mentor

9. Attend seminars (this one might have to be on hold for a while)

10. Attend webinars

11. Join a coaching program

12. Join a sales mastermind group

13. Hire a coach

You don’t have to utilize all these strategies, of course. But the more you do, the better off you’ll be. Over the course of my professional career, I’ve employed nearly all these approaches. And to this day I still use more than half of them regularly.

Because as I frequently say in my keynote speeches and workshops: “The sale doesn’t typically go to the best product. The sale doesn’t typically go to the cheapest product. The sale typically goes to the best salesperson.”

And that salesperson can be you.

Curious about how a sales mastermind group works and how it can help you dramatically boost your sales? Click here to learn more!


32 Benefits of Joining a Mastermind Group

May 19th, 2020

32 Benefits of Joining a Mastermind GroupWhether you’re a business owner, CEO, salesperson, or executive, if you want to accelerate your success, one of the best actions you can take is to join a mastermind group.

What exactly is a mastermind group? It’s a group of people—typically between four and twelve—who meet regularly to help each other achieve their goals. They act as sort of an informal board of directors for each other, generating ideas, sharing knowledge, and providing feedback.

The concept of the mastermind group was popularized by Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich. Hill noticed that many successful business people had such groups and recognized that the groups were a significant factor in their success. Mastermind groups have grown in popularity and diversity ever since.

Which is no surprise when you consider that a mastermind group can provide you with:

1. Accountability
2. Momentum
3. New perspectives
4. People who understand the challenges you experience
5. More and better ideas
6. Potential collaboration partners
7. Better and faster decision making
8. A more positive outlook
9. Lessons and ideas from other industries
10. The stimulus to think bigger
11. A safe space to discuss challenges and problems
12. New insights
13. Other people’s expertise
14. Access to networks beyond your own
15. Encouragement and support
16. Faster sales growth
17. A kick in the pants when you need one
18. Opportunities for cross promotion
19. More confidence
20. Greater energy
21. Deep, meaningful connections with amazing people
22. The chance to learn from other’s experiences
23. A place to vent when you need to
24. Better follow-through
25. Multiple opinions
26. Powerful insights into yourself
27. Access to additional resources
28. Honest feedback
29. Inspiration
30. More creativity
31. A sense of belonging and acceptance
32. The opportunity to feel good about helping others

Today there are more types of mastermind groups than ever before: some large, some small. Meeting anywhere from weekly to annually, both physically and virtually. Groups that cross state lines and even international borders.

And no longer are groups exclusively for business owners. Nowadays you can join a leadership mastermind group, a marketing mastermind group, or a sales mastermind group to develop your skills and get help with your specific challenges.

So how can you find a mastermind group to join?

Ask around
Ask the most successful people in your network if they belong to a mastermind group. When you find people who do, ask if their group is open to new members. (Be aware that groups often have the same members for years, and as a result, don’t accept new people.)

Check with the organizations you belong to
Many business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and trade associations have formal or informal mastermind programs for their members. They may entail an additional investment, or they may be included with your membership.

Check out your favorite business experts
Many business speakers and coaches have their own mastermind programs that are open to the public. Often these programs integrate training and/or coaching with the traditional benefits of a mastermind group.

Create your own
Invite four or five or eight or nine of the brightest, most diverse minds you know to start a mastermind group with you. As a bonus, you get to decide the details of how the group will operate.

I have been in several mastermind groups throughout my career as a keynote speaker and trainer, and each one has been valuable to my professional growth and success. It’s a powerful concept that literally anyone can take advantage of. It requires an investment of time and energy (and sometimes money), but it’s absolutely worth it.

Tell Your Prospect How You Failed

May 12th, 2020

Tell Your Prospect How You FailedStories and case studies are powerful sales tools. They give us opportunities to showcase how wonderful our product or service is. They provide proof of our abilities and enable our prospects to see themselves benefitting just as our previous customers have.

There’s just one problem with them.

Everyone’s stories are the same.

Here’s what I mean by that. Whenever a salesperson tells a story, it’s inevitably a success story. Which makes sense—we want to brag about how awesome we are. But when everyone does it, the tactic loses some of its value.

How about a different approach? How about telling your prospect about a time you failed?

I often tell my prospects this story: Early in my career as a speaker, I booked a keynote speech for a manufacturing company for their annual distributor meeting. It was a last-minute booking (less than three weeks before their event) and I was happy to get it.

When I arrived at the event, however, I noticed that things were amiss—nobody from the company that hired me seemed to care that I was there, and the morale of the attendees seemed awfully low. As the day went on, I learned that there was a lot of animosity between this manufacturer and their distributors.

After a long day of dry executive presentations, I was scheduled to speak following dinner. By that time, the audience was tired, bored, and unhappy. They were not in the mood for a high-content sales program. Understandably, my presentation fell flat. I wouldn’t call it a disaster, but it definitely wasn’t a home run. I was the wrong speaker in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And it was my fault.

I didn’t do a good enough job in my needs analysis when talking with the buyer in the first place. If I had, I would have discovered that they didn’t necessarily want me—they just needed someone to fill a slot and I happened to be the first speaker to pick up the phone when they called. I would have learned more about their situation and their particular needs for the event. And I could have told them that I wasn’t the right fit.

After I tell this story to prospects, I tell them what I learned and how it has made me a better speaker and a better event partner. Specifically, that I:

• learned to ask more and better questions.
• learned I only want to work with organizations who actually want me and my message.
• turn down speaking opportunities I’m not right for (and recommend others instead).
• do more research on both the client and the audience so I can create more impact.
• provide free consulting to meeting planners to help them make their event successful.

I’m a better speaker because I failed. And I want my prospects to know that. And your prospects should know how failure made you a better salesperson. Or how it made your business a better company.

So tell a story about how you failed. Then tell your prospect:

• How you reacted
• What you did
• How you made it right
• What you learned
• How it made you better

By all means, keep on telling your success stories. They’re still powerful. Mixing in a failure story as well, though, will earn you massive credibility and dramatically enhance your prospect’s trust in you. It will also set you apart from your competitors. Which should lead to another success story.

Change These Statements to Questions to Boost Your Sales

May 5th, 2020

Change These Statements to Questions to Boost Your SalesFor the most part, we humans suck at change. We like our routines—they make our lives easier and give us comfort and security.

By contrast, change is scary—we have to venture into the unknown. There are no guarantees, which means we might waste our time, money, and effort. Plus, we open ourselves to frustration, regret, criticism, and even ridicule.

And yet, times like these demand we investigate new approaches, new messages, new markets, new products and services, and new strategies and tactics.

Which is easier said than done, because so many of us resist change with every fiber of our being. It’s what stymies and prevents change in so many organizations.

So if you’re a leader and you want to sell your people on a possible change, you need to help them change their thinking first and foremost. And that’s going to mean countering the common excuses people frequently throw up as roadblocks to trying something new or different.

These excuses are meant to shut down discussion—and they often do. But you can overcome them by challenging your people (or yourself) to consider a question in place of each of these statements. (And if you’re a salesperson or a professional, substitute “I” for “we” in each pair.)

“We can’t do that.”
“How could we do that?”

“We’ve never done that.”
“What if we did that?”

“It’s what everybody else is doing.”
“What could we do differently?”

“We don’t do that.”
“Why couldn’t we do that?”

“That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
“What are we missing by not changing?”

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
“How could it be even better?”

“We tried that before and it didn’t work.”
“What did we learn and how can we apply it to a fresh attempt?”

“We don’t have the budget for that.”
“How could we fund that?”

If you want to boost your sales in this economy, you’re going to have to do some things differently. Success is going to require new marketing campaigns, new products, new training, and more.

Sure, it’s scary. Sure, there’s risk. Sure, some things may not work out. But in times of radical change, not trying anything different is the riskiest path of all.