Don’t Tell Your Customers to Have a Great Night

January 21st, 2020

Don’t Tell Your Customers to Have a Great NightIt had been a rough night.

It was supposed to have been a great night. It was the first class of a three-day aikido seminar featuring one of my favorite instructors. Unfortunately, his flight was severely delayed, which resulted in that evening’s class starting and finishing late. Which meant that we went to dinner late, and by the time I dropped one of my classmates off at his house, it was pushing midnight.

That’s when things got really bad.

Driving home, I hit a nasty pothole that blew out one of my tires. I pulled over to change it—in sub-freezing temperatures—and encountered a problem. I called my insurance company’s roadside assistance for help. The person who arrived did his best, but was unable to resolve the issue. So I needed a tow. I called roadside assistance again to make the arrangements. Due to the lateness of the hour, it took several calls back and forth to take care of everything.

Now the people I spoke with at roadside assistance were wonderful, and I’m grateful to them for their help, their professionalism, and their courtesy. There was just one tiny, little detail that could have used improvement.

At the end of every call, the person said to me, “Have a great night.”

It was after 2 o’clock in the morning. I was dirty. I was freezing. I was exhausted. I was facing a 45-minute wait for a tow truck, followed by an Uber ride home, and only a few hours’ sleep before class early that morning. There was precisely zero chance I was going to have a great night. And being told to have one felt like salt being poured in an open wound.

I understand why they said it. They had been trained to. But that’s bad training. Because it replaces empathy with insincerity. In the company’s efforts to ensure every call ends on a positive note, they actually ensured many—if not most—end on a sour one.

What would have been a better way to end each call? Almost anything! At least, anything that acknowledged my situation and emotional state:

• “Hang in there.”
• “We’re here if you need anything else.”
• “Hope everything goes smoothly from here on out.”
• “It’s gonna be okay.”
• “Praying for you.”
• “Call me back if you want to talk.”
• “Hope tomorrow is better.”

All of those statement convey empathy. And that’s what connects you—and your people—to your customers.

Should your salespeople, customer service reps, and technicians be positive when interacting with clients? Absolutely! At the same time, however, they need to exhibit empathy with them, especially when things are going wrong. Otherwise, their positivity comes across as tone-deafness and insensitivity.

So when you train your people—and you should train your people—don’t have them memorize banalities and regurgitate them mindlessly. Teach them how to be empathetic and emotionally intelligent. It takes more time and effort, but it will create better customer engagement, improving the customer experience.

And prevent them from making a customer’s bad night ever-so-slightly-worse.

21 Things Successful People Say Regularly

January 14th, 2020

21 Things Successful People Say RegularlyAs a professional keynote speaker and trainer, I have a tremendous appreciation and respect for the power of words. The right words at the right time can solve problems, heal wounds, create connection, or move people to action. They are essential to your sales, business, and personal success.

Whether you’re a salesperson, manager, or business owner, here are 21 of the best things you can say on a regular basis.

1. “You’re right.”
2. “I agree.”
3. “I see.”
4. “I understand.”
5. “What do you think?”
6. “You can do it.”
7. “That’s a good idea.”
8. “Can you help me?”
9. “Great job!”
10. “I trust you.”
11. “Go for it.”
12. “I’d love to get your input.”
13. “How can I help?”
14. “Tell me more.”
15. “I’m sorry.”
16. “I was wrong.”
17. “What can I do to support you?”
18. “Please.”
19. “Thank you.”
20. “I appreciate you.”
21. “What if…?”

Every one of these phrases has immense power to affect others positively. Which enables them to be more confident, effective, enthusiastic, forgiving, creative, and action-oriented.

Use these phrases frequently with customers, employees, vendors, friends, and family. They will strengthen your business and personal relationships as well as boost your sales, productivity, and happiness.

This success strategy requires no money, no physical labor, no massive time investment. Just a few words. Powerful words.

Who is Your Ideal Client?

January 7th, 2020

Who is Your Ideal Client?Everyone in business wants more customers. But not all customers are created equal. Some are better for you than others. And if you’re going after more clients, it behooves you to focus your time, money, and energy on those clients who will provide you with the biggest return on your efforts.

Which means in your marketing and prospecting efforts, you want to target not just any potential buyers, but your ideal buyers. Who are those exactly? Well, it depends.

“Ideal” is a subjective word. It can mean different things to different people. It could refer to those clients who:

• Buy the greatest volume
• Are the most profitable
• Buy most frequently
• Are the easiest to close
• Have been with you the longest
• Give you the most referrals
• Are the easiest to deal with
• Provide you with the most interesting and challenging work, or
• Are the most fun to work with

Which of those do you most want more of? Those are the prospects you want to pursue. (And yes, you can pick two or even three of these of these categories to go after.)

How do you find them? Start by examining your client list and identify the customers who fit the description you’ve chosen. Then, determine what they have in common, being as thorough and as detailed as possible. That will give you an Ideal Client Profile.

Use this profile whenever you create marketing pieces, develop prospecting plans, or decide what events to attend. Your Ideal Client Profile is also helpful when coming up with new products or services to offer.

This is not to say that these will be the only customers you serve. Heck, if somebody who doesn’t fit one of these categories calls you up and asks to buy something, you’re not gonna say no. But in your prospecting and marketing, these are the clients you’re going to target. Since you have a limited supply of time, money and energy, spending them going after your ideal customers will result in more sales, profits, cash flow, and satisfaction.

“I can’t stand Christmas music”—My Interview with Santa Claus

December 18th, 2019

My Interview with Santa ClausI recently had the chance to sit down with the CEO of one of the most successful organizations in the world—the big man himself, Santa Claus. It was a cool, fall day—before the craziness of fourth quarter set in, when St. Nick had a little time to spare. His legendary jolliness was on full display, and over a cup of hot cocoa, we had a great chat.

DC: You have so many names: Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Pere Noël, Pelznickel, Ded Moroz—how did you come by them?
SC: The names come from the different languages of various countries and the early stories they told about me. For most of my career, I’ve worked on the down low, and when people don’t understand something, they make up stories. And I wasn’t exactly leaving my business card at every stop, so they made up names for me as well.

DC: Which name do you prefer?
SC: I like them all! Really, I’m pretty easy going, so feel free to call me whatever you like.

DC: What’s your favorite thing about Christmas?
SC: The sheer joy on children’s faces when they unwrap their presents and when they play with their toys on Christmas morning. We record all those moments so we can watch them when I return from my deliveries. It’s just the best.

DC: What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
SC: Miracle on 34th Street. Followed closely by Die Hard.

DC: What’s your favorite Christmas song?
SC: I can’t stand Christmas music! It’s the same twelve songs over and over again. We actually don’t play it at the North Pole—not in the house, not in the workshop, not even in the reindeer stables.

DC: What kinds of music DO you like?
SC: I’m a big hip-hop fan. And acid jazz. I crank that up to 11. Mrs. Claus loves classic rock and Irish drinking songs. And the elves are all over the board.

DC: How has technology impacted your work?
SC: Not that much, really. We have a small tech department that handles e-mail and monitors social media, but that’s about it. Our behavior-monitoring and data-analysis efforts aren’t technology-based. The systems we set up in the beginning still work perfectly and are superior to anything employed by the world’s most advanced intelligence agencies. And they’re more reliable and secure as well. Let’s face it, I can’t afford to have a bunch of servers crash or have my data hacked.

DC: Are kids getting naughtier? Or nicer?
SC: Surprisingly, neither. I’ve been tracking global naughtiness for hundreds of years. And over that time, the JNI (Juvenile Naughtiness Index) has been nearly a constant. Sure, it may tic up or down a bit occasionally, but it invariably regresses to the mean.

DC: What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years?
SC: Children’s requests have gotten completely out of hand. Back in the day, kids would only ask for one present. And it was usually something simple: a baseball bat, a doll, a wagon. Now, kids have lists longer than real estate contracts! And of course they want the latest electronics and video games.

DC: Is there anything that annoys or frustrates you about Christmas?
SC: Yes, now that you mention it. A lot of times, parents will give their kids things like underwear, or electric toothbrushes, or educational materials, and write on the gift tag that it’s from me. And then the kids blame me for it. So parents, cut that out! In fact, if your kid’s been good, don’t give them things that are no fun. Those aren’t presents. And the only time you should give somebody underwear is when you’re buying lingerie for your significant other.

DC: Speaking of significant others, you and Mrs. Claus have been married for an incredibly long time. What’s your secret for a successful relationship?
SC: There are several. The first is to have mutual goals, values, and priorities. Mrs. Claus shares my passion for children and has always been a huge supporter of my mission. Another is communication. We talk about everything—there are no secrets between us, and we make it a point to always ask the other for what we need and want. And a third is keeping the spark alive. I still think she’s a hottie and I let her know that every chance I get!

DC: So you and Mrs. Claus….um….how do I put this……
SC: Hey, it’s cold at the North Pole! We gotta keep warm! Ho, ho, ho!

DC: What do you do right after Christmas?
SC: Everybody gets a two-week vacation. The Mrs. and I usually go someplace tropical: the Caribbean, Hawaii, Bora Bora…

DC: Do you know the Easter Bunny?
SC: The Easter Bunny and I are tight. We have dinner with the Bunnies several times a year. And we share intel, resources, and best practices.

DC: How do you get food at the North Pole? It’s not like GrubHub delivers there.
SC: We grow most of our own food. We have a huge greenhouse where we grow fruits and vegetables, and we raise chickens and livestock. So we have eggs, beef, lamb….

DC: Reindeer meat?
SC: Next question.

DC: I understand that a few years ago, you filed lawsuits against a number of companies for unauthorized use of your image. What happened with those?
SC: That litigation is still in process, so I can’t comment on it at this time.

DC: Okay, on a lighter note, what’s your favorite kind of cookie?
SC: Chocolate chip. But I love all cookies! And brownies too. Except for the gluten-free ones. I give those to the reindeer. And other kinds of treats are nice too. Some French families leave out these little eclairs. Those are so good!

DC: Does it bother you that many people don’t believe in you?
SC: Over the centuries, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if people believe in you as long as you believe in yourself.

DC: One final question: Am I on the naughty or the nice list?
SC: I think we both know the answer to that one.

14 Tips for Delivering Better Presentations

December 10th, 2019

14 Tips for Delivering Better PresentationsIf you’re in sales—and that’s nearly everyone in the company—you need to make presentations. Whether it’s a one-on-one to a prospective client, or a keynote speech at a conference, delivering a great presentation is vital to your success.

Here are 14 tips for presenting more effectively.

1. Open strong
Your opening is your opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. Don’t waste it by telling a stale joke or talking about the history of your company. Instead, cite a startling statistic, make a bold statement, or ask a provocative question. Or consider one of these other powerful options.

2. Close stronger
Whatever you say last is what your audience will remember best. So finish with something worth remembering. Like what? Check out eleven ideas here.

3. Know your opening and closing cold
You don’t need to memorize your entire presentation. Very few people—even professional speakers—do this. (For a variety of reasons.) You do need to memorize your opening and closing though. In order to deliver these two crucial pieces of your presentation with maximum impact, you need to have them down cold.

4. Vary your rate, tone, and volume
Speaking in a monotone will put your audience to sleep. And while shouting can be extremely effective when used judiciously, if you do it for the entire presentation—which I have experienced far too often—it not only loses its impact, it seriously turns off your listeners. Think of your presentation like a TV show or movie: the pacing, intensity, emotional feel, and volume all need to change frequently to keep the audience’s attention.

5. Look at your audience, not your slides
Whether you’re presenting to one person or a thousand, eye contact is critical. So don’t turn your back to them. Whenever possible, place a laptop, tablet, or confidence monitor in front of you so you can see what slide you’re on, while still looking at your audience.

6. Slides—fewer words, more visuals
The days of slides packed with paragraphs of text are—or should be—long gone. PowerPoint is best for visuals—charts, graphs, drawings, photos, video—not long blocks of hard-to-read text. Speak the words, show the visuals.

7. Don’t stand or sit behind anything
Part of your success as a presenter stems from your ability to connect with your audience. And an important element for creating connection is how well they can see you. So don’t allow obstacles to come between you and your audience. If you’re in your office with a prospect, come out from behind your desk. If you’re on a stage, get out from behind the lectern. (A podium is what people stand on. A lectern is what people stand behind. Although they shouldn’t.)

8. Use a remote
You don’t want to be tethered to your computer. A remote enables you to roam around the room, which enhances your ability to connect with audience members. (Oh, and always pack extra batteries.)

9. Tell stories
Stories provide context for data so we can make sense of it. Stories communicate emotion as well as facts. Stories hold our attention. Stories can inspire people to act. Tell more of them.

10. Get your audience involved
People today don’t want to just sit and listen to a presentation. They want to be active participants in a conversation. So ask them questions. Have them share thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Incorporate relevant exercises and games. The more interactive you can make your presentation, the more powerful it will be.

11. Be enthusiastic
If you’re not excited about what you’re saying, why the hell should anyone else be?

12. Have a call to action at or near the end
What’s the point of your presentation? What do you want your listeners to do once you’ve finished? If you don’t include a call to action, you’ve wasted your time.

13. Practice
Okay, practice doesn’t make perfect, but it definitely makes better.

14. Get coaching
If you really want to up your presentation game, work with a presentation coach. A good coach can help you overcome your weaknesses and hone your strengths. Just a few hours with a coach can make a huge difference in your presentations.

The better your presentations, the better your sales. And the better for your career. Use these 14 tips to make every presentation more engaging, more professional, and more impactful.

When NOT to Negotiate

December 3rd, 2019

When NOT to NegotiateNegotiation is an essential element of sales, not to mention other aspects of business. It’s vital for reaching mutually beneficial outcomes, closing more deals, and growing your business.

And yet, there are times when it’s in your best interest NOT to negotiate. Here are eight of them.

1. When you don’t have to
If you have a product or service that’s in high demand—or if you have a scarce supply of it—you don’t need to negotiate. If one particular prospect doesn’t buy because you’re not willing to give them a deal, there are plenty more who will. There’s a reason Rolexes and Ferraris don’t go on sale.

2. When you can’t trust the other side
If you don’t believe the people you’re dealing with can be trusted—for any reason—there’s no point in negotiating. Just walk away.

3. When it’s not worth the time
Negotiating takes time, and time is money. Time spent negotiating is time spent not doing other things that are important for your sales or your business. If the time it would take to negotiate exceeds the value you would stand to gain, don’t bother. Just say yes or no and move one.

4. When the deal is bad for you
A good deal serves both parties’ interests. But some people will make you an offer that serves their interests without truly serving yours. As a professional speaker, I often receive requests to speak for free, with the promise of “great exposure.” I have learned, however—as many other speakers also have—that free speeches typically lead to requests for more free speeches. And that principle applies to your business as well: bad deals typically lead to more bad deals.

5. When your counterpart isn’t the final decision-maker
If the person you’re negotiating with can’t say yes to the deal you hammer out, you’re wasting your time. Because just when you think you’ve reached a conclusion, you’re going to have to start the process all over again with the person they have to report to. And this time, you’ll be starting from a position that’s weaker than your original opening position. Negotiate with the decision-makers or not at all.

6. When the other side isn’t that interested
If a prospect—or a job applicant, or a potential business partner—doesn’t really want what you have to offer, sweetening the pot isn’t going to help much. So don’t bother. Instead, invest your time and energy seeking out those who would be a better fit. Your results will be far superior.

7. When it’s unseemly
Occasionally, someone will come to you with a very weak negotiating position. And they aren’t asking for very much. Maybe an employee with a sick relative is requesting some additional time off. Or a charity is asking for a small donation. Or a friend has tickets to a concert or ball game they’re offering you cheap because they can’t go. Sure, you could squeeze them. But do you want to be the kind of person who does that?

8. When you’ve established enough trust that it isn’t necessary
It isn’t easy to create this kind of relationship, but when you do, it’s a thing of beauty. I worked with a client for several years. In the beginning, we negotiated every detail of every project. Over time, though, we built up enough mutual respect, appreciation, and trust that we didn’t need to negotiate any more. They would make me offers they knew I would say yes to and I did the same thing in return. It saved everyone time and hassle. It’s a great goal to strive for—with every client, employee, vendor, and partner you have.

Negotiating is one of the most important skills you can master. It’s incredibly valuable, both in business and your personal life. But knowing when not to negotiate can be every bit as valuable.

23 Business Lessons from an Undercover Billionaire

November 26th, 2019

23 Business Lessons from an Undercover BillionaireI don’t watch a lot of television, but I recently binge-watched the Discovery Channel program, Undercover Billionaire. The eight-episode reality show follows self-made billionaire, Glenn Stearns, as he attempts to build a million-dollar business in a mere 90 days.

While it may not sound like much of a challenge for a billionaire to start a successful business, Stearns has a few restrictions to deal with:

• He may not get help from any of his existing business or personal connections
• He has to do it in a city he has never been to and has no relationships in
• He must use a fake name so he can’t trade on his reputation or previous successes
• His only assets at the beginning are an old pickup truck and $100 cash

Stearns is an unlikely success story: the dyslexic child of alcoholic parents, who failed fourth grade and graduated in the bottom 10% of his high school class. Yet through determination and hard work, he started his first company at age 25 and built it into one of the largest mortgage lenders in the United States.

Wanting to prove the American dream is still alive and accessible, Stearns created a challenge for himself: that, starting with nothing, he could build a million-dollar business in 90 days. If he fails to achieve that goal, he will invest one million dollars of his own money in the business.

The result is a fascinating and inspiring journey. Over the course of the 90 days, Stearns has to come up with a million-dollar idea, raise working capital, assemble a team, and launch the company. (While also trying to find a place to live and figure out where his next meal is coming from.)

Along the way, he encounters multiple setbacks and frustrations, many of which will be familiar to anyone who has ever been a business owner or leader. And throughout the experience, Stearns relies on—and shares—many of the sales, marketing, and leadership lessons he has learned over his 30-year business career. Here are 23:

1. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses
2. Find your buyer first and work backwards
3. No job is beneath you
4. Diversify your efforts
5. Tap into the herd mentality
6. Instill confidence
7. Be ready to pivot
8. Do your due diligence
9. Know how to motivate
10. Set your own table—don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to fall into your lap
11. Be prepared for setbacks
12. Turn rivals into revenue
13. Find people smarter than you
14. “No” is just the start of the conversation
15. Create space for talent—if a spot doesn’t exist, create one
16. With every setback, you gotta move forward
17. Don’t pigeonhole your players
18. Lose the battle to win the war
19. If things go wrong, don’t go with them
20. Interviews don’t tell you everything
21. When conflicts arise, conflict is optional
22. Don’t confuse effort with results
23. Endure more pain than anyone else

I won’t spoil the ending by revealing whether or not Stearns achieves his audacious goal. Check it out yourself on the Discovery Channel or the Discovery GO app. If you’re a salesperson, CEO, or professional, you’ll find it entertaining, insightful, and inspiring. It may even help you toward your first billion.

One Secret to Being a Better Leader or Salesperson

November 19th, 2019

One Secret to Being a Better Leader or SalespersonWant to be a more successful salesperson? A more effective leader? Both?

You can!

And it doesn’t require an advanced degree, or years of study, or mastering some arcane, complex set of skills.

It’s actually very simple. It’s just one thing. Anyone can do it, regardless of age, education, background, or experience.

And you can start doing it immediately! Like, today! Right now!

Ready?

Here it is:

Shut up!!

That’s it. Just stop talking so damn much. Spend more time listening instead.

Most people talk way too much and don’t listen anywhere near enough. But for nearly every aspect of business, listening is far more important than talking.

Listening:

• Gets you data
• Enables you to discover ideas
• Provides you with insights
• Clues you in to people’s emotions
• Makes people feel understood
• Helps people feel valued, respected, and appreciated
• Builds rapport, likability, and trust
• Causes people to be more open to what you have to say

The challenge, of course, is that shutting the hell up is more easily said than done. We all love talking, so we do it as much as possible. We like to prove our knowledge and superiority, be the center of attention, and tell others what to do. And it comes so naturally to us that we don’t even think about it.

Listening, on the other hand, requires conscious effort. We have to fight our natural inclination to talk and let the other person have the spotlight instead. We need to resist the urge to rebut them, change the subject to what we want to discuss, or simply tune them out. That requires focus and an open mind.

But that effort is worth it. You’ll gain more information, make others feel better, and improve your relationships, leading to higher sales and better results.

By the way, talking less and listening more will also strengthen your personal relationships. Try it with your spouse, your kids, and your friends. You’ll be amazed by the effect it has.

Top salespeople and top leaders understand the power of listening and why it can be so much more valuable than talking. So the next time you’re tempted to say something, try saying nothing. Zip it. Button your lip. Hold your tongue. Keep your trap shut. It’s tough, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

When Is Your Training Complete?

October 1st, 2019

When Is Your Training Complete?It’s a common trope in science fiction and fantasy stories: a hero begins their training buts gets interrupted. The hero then must either return or find someone else to “complete” their training.

Which brings up an interesting question: When do you complete your training?

The answer is…

Never.

Training—in sales or anything else—is an ongoing process. It never ends. Because there is always more to learn. There are always more insights to attain. Your skills can always be further honed.

I’ve been training in aikido for more than a decade. And the more I train, the more I realize I have to learn. Not just new techniques, but different approaches to techniques I already know. Getting smoother with my movements. Becoming more adaptable. More consistent. More precise. Faster.

And that process will never cease. I know aikido instructors who have been training for more than fifty years who still read books, watch videos, and attend classes and seminars. Because no matter how good you are, you can always get better.

So if you’re in sales, what it your commitment to continuous training? And if you’re in leadership, how committed are you to providing ongoing training for your people? (And not just salespeople, but everyone in your organization?)

Don’t think of training as an expense, or an interruption, or an event. Think of it as an essential part of the hero’s journey. And just as the journey never ends, neither does the training.

18 Buyer Emotions You Need to Overcome

September 24th, 2019

18 Buyer Emotions You Need to OvercomeAll buying is emotional. Even if you’re selling microchips to engineers, there’s still an emotional component to the transaction. Because as human beings, we feel more often, more easily, more quickly, and more deeply than we think. And those emotions play a huge role in all our decision-making. Often unconsciously.

So whenever you encounter a prospect, it’s critical to remember that they’re bringing a complex assortment of emotions along with them. And many of those emotions can be an obstacle on the way to the sale.

When your potential buyer walks into your store, calls you on the phone, or meets with you in their office, they may be burdened by any—or any combination—of these negative emotions:

1. Fear
2. Anger
3. Guilt
4. Disgust
5. Embarrassment
6. Sadness
7. Anxiety
8. Frustration
9. Jealousy
10. Shock
11. Tension
12. Confusion
13. Resentment
14. Shame
15. Disappointment
16. Overwhelm
17. Dread
18. Remorse

And that can be a problem for you. Because being in a negative emotional state can prevent a person from hearing what you say, considering relevant facts, and making a buying decision.

Which means you need to address their feelings before you address your product.

Depending on the emotions they’re experiencing, you may need to:

• Let them vent
• Empathize with them
• Validate them
• Encourage them
• Apologize
• Make them laugh
• Ask them questions
• Reassure them
• Offer them something to eat or drink
• Give them ideas for dealing with their problem

You don’t need to be a therapist. And you don’t need to have the answers to all their problems. Often, just listening is the most powerful, most helpful thing you can do.

Once you’ve alleviated your prospect’s negative emotional state, then you can transition to discussing their wants and needs, and your products and services. Because now you’ll have their full attention and interest. And because you’ve helped them replace their negative emotions with positive ones—such as relief, hope, pride, confidence, anticipation, gratitude, and possibly even excitement—they’re now in a buying state of mind.

By the way, everything above also applies to every customer service situation you and your company will ever encounter. (Just sayin’.)

Managing your prospect’s emotions is a vital part of the sales process. If your buyer’s hands are full of emotional baggage, they can’t sign on the dotted line. Relieve them of their burden and they’ll be free to embrace your product.

Eight Things Your Customers, Employees, and Loved Ones Have in Common

September 11th, 2019

Eight Things Your Customers, Employees, and Loved Ones Have in CommonYour customers are exactly like your employees. And both of them are exactly like the people in your life you love most. In one critically important way: They have the exact same emotional needs.

They all want to feel valued and valuable. That means they want to feel:

1. Understood
2. Appreciated
3. Important
4. Respected
5. Cared about
6. Special
7. Safe
8. Smart

The more of the these emotions they feel—and the more strongly they feel them—the better their performance, productivity, attitude, communication, initiative, morale, health, enthusiasm, decision-making, creativity, loyalty, and sales.

When you actively make your clients feel these eight ways, they’ll rave about you to others and buy more frequently from you. When you stimulate these eight emotions in your employees, they’ll work harder, stay longer, innovate more, and take better care of your customers. And when you regularly trigger these eight emotional states with your loved ones, they’ll be happier, healthier, more secure, more successful, and more loving.

By the way, this also applies to your vendors, partners, franchisees, contractors, interns, volunteers, lenders, investors, colleagues, and friends. Pretty much everyone who interacts with you and your business.

So whether you’re a salesperson, manager, or CEO, do everything in your power to make everyone that you and your organization touch feel these eight ways. The more you do, the better your results, sales, and relationships will be.

What is Your Product, Really?

September 4th, 2019

What is Your Product, Really? Nearly all of us—whether we’re salespeople, business owners, or professionals—love the products and services we sell. We take pride in their quality, reliability, accuracy, versatility, speed, appearance, safety, and effectiveness. We can talk about the features and benefits of our products and services all day long. We believe they are among the best—if not the best—in the marketplace.

But our prospects think of our offerings in a very different way. To them, our products and services are a means to an end.

Think about that for a moment.

People don’t buy our products and services because they actually want them. People buy them because they want something else, and they hope our wares can help them get that.

I’m a keynote speaker and seminar leader. But nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “Gee, I wish I had a seminar to go to today!” No CEO in history has ever said to their team, “What we need around here is a good keynote speech!”

When people attend my seminars or hire me to speak, it’s because they want to boost their sales and profits. I’m just the means to that end.

So what are the ends your prospects want? What are their needs? What makes them happy? What are they worried about? What goals are they trying to achieve? What problems are they trying to solve? What do they want more of or less of?

The key to boosting your sales lies in the answers to these questions. Because that’s what your prospect really cares about. Focus on those answers in your marketing, prospecting, presentations, and closing.

Your product or service is only a means to an end. Spend more time talking about the end and less time talking about the means, and you’ll end up with more sales.

It’s Not Too Late

August 27th, 2019

It’s Not Too Late

It’s not too late:

To thank someone.

To apologize.

To start over.

To change direction.

To follow up with your buyer.

To learn something new.

To go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.

To ask for help.

To get certified

To find your passion.

To give a compliment.

To face your fears.

To be happy.

To ask for the sale.

To start exercising.

To get a mentor or a coach.

To be kind.

To try again.

To admit you were wrong.

To reach out.

To change your mind.

To try something new.

To free yourself from what’s holding you back.

To attend a seminar.

To launch a new product or service.

To forgive someone.

To forgive yourself.

To have an adventure.

To train your sales and customer service teams.

To read a book.

To write a book.

To chase your dream.

To make amends.

To help someone.

To leave a bad company.

To leave a bad relationship.

To make someone feel important.

To return a favor.

To tell someone you love them.

To succeed.

Direct Mail Done Right

August 20th, 2019

Direct Mail Done RightRegular readers of this blog know that I like to point out egregious examples of bad sales and marketing efforts. Like this one. And this one. Oh, and let’s not forget this one.

But I like to highlight good examples as well. I recently received the above postcard in the mail from my realtor—and friend—Bob Gordon. It’s content marketing at its finest.

The postcard lists the top ten home remodeling projects based on the percentage of resale value to cost. It’s valuable information for any homeowner thinking about possible remodeling projects. And if you weren’t thinking about remodeling, this information could inspire you to. It’s a practical message delivered precisely to the target audience. And it positions Bob as a person who truly cares about his clients.

As a bonus, because it’s useful, this postcard is likely to be saved, probably in a prominent place where it will be seen frequently. And very possibly seen by people other than the recipients. That expands the reach and impact of the piece.

A lot of salespeople and marketers have given up on direct mail, because of its perceived cost and inefficiency. But direct mail is actually more effective now than it has been in years, because people get so much less of it than they used to. Postcards are particularly effective because—unlike envelopes and email—they don’t need to be opened to be read. And when you employ content marketing, you make your direct mail even more powerful.

So the question is, how could you combine content marketing and direct mail? What information do you have that your clients and prospects would find valuable? What content marketing have you used digitally—in emails, on your blog, on Facebook—that you could convert to physical form to reach entirely new audiences?

Perhaps now is the time for you to discover—or rediscover—direct mail marketing. When done right—that is, when combined with content—it can be a powerful tool for driving sales.

The Magic Customer Service Question

August 14th, 2019

The Magic Customer Service Question

I was hungry.

I had just checked in at the Sheraton hotel in Tampa, Florida, where I was conducting a sales training seminar the next day. Now, normally when I’m traveling, I like to get out of the hotel and find a good, local restaurant to eat at. But this evening, it was late and I was tired. So I simply ordered room service—a fish sandwich and fries. It was local fish and it was tasty.

When I called down later to have the tray picked up, the friendly woman on the other end of the phone asked the usual question: “How was everything?”

“Fine,” I replied.

That would normally be the end of the conversation. But then she asked me a question nobody had ever asked me before: “Is there anything we could have done better?”

That was a very different question. And it prompted me to give her more feedback.

“Well, since you asked….the fish was kind of small compared to the bun. There was a lot more bread than fish.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” she responded. “I’ll pass that on to the kitchen staff, because they’ll want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Thank you for letting me know. And I’m going to comp your meal for you.”

Whoa.

I hadn’t expected that. That’s customer service. I was stunned. And delighted. Not because I saved $20 on a meal. But because somebody really cared about my experience. She made me feel valued and important.

I have recounted that story—and given Sheraton tons of free publicity—in countless keynote speeches and workshops. I have made it a point to return to that Sheraton for seminars, and once I went there just for dinner. (It was fantastic, by the way.)

All because of the great experience I had there. And it wouldn’t have happened if the woman hadn’t asked what I now call “The Magic Customer Service Question.” Because that question elicited the information she needed to turn an ordinary situation into an extraordinary one.

Sales is service and service is sales. So if you want to improve your sales, you need to improve your service. And to do that, you need as much feedback as possible from your customers. Don’t settle for the standard question and the standard answer. Ask, “Is there anything we could have done better?” and use the information you get to improve your products, services, and customer experiences. Do that and your sales will flourish. Like magic.

19 Sales Tips from Influence ‘19

August 7th, 2019

19 Sales Tips from Influence ‘19After twenty years of going to “Influence”—the National Speakers Association’s annual conference—“Influence” finally came to me! That’s right, Influence 2019 was held in the city I happily call home: Denver, Colorado.

More than 1200 of the world’s top professional speakers and trainers came to Denver to admire the spectacular scenery and enjoy the beautiful weather. Oh yeah, and to meet people and learn some stuff.

Over the course of four days, seven general sessions, and dozens of breakouts, an incredible number of insights and ideas for business and personal success were shared. Here, in no particular order, are nineteen of the best:

1. “If you don’t value people, you can’t add value to people.”—John C. Maxwell @JohnCMaxwell
Delivering value is the core of business. Yet, to do that, you must value the people around you. That includes not only your customers, but your sales team, other employees, vendors, and others. How much do you value the people in your organization? How well do you express to them how much you value them?

2. “Listen to your clients and they will tell you what they will buy.”—Patricia Fripp @PFripp
Most salespeople talk way too much and listen way too little. Instead, ask good questions—lots of them—and listen carefully to the answers. If you ask enough of the right questions, your prospect will give you all the information you need to make the sale.

3. “Customer service is about kindness.”—Jia Jiang @JiaJiang
Kindness should be a core value for every organization. It’s something that literally everyone wants. And it’s not hard to be kind. But too many companies put policies in place that make it difficult or impossible for their people to be kind to customers. How kind are your customer service policies?

4. “What do you need to shed in order to transform?”—Kathy Dempsey @KeepShedding
Far too many of us—myself included—are carrying around beliefs, habits, fears, patterns, addictions, biases, and relationships that don’t serve us. All of these burdens slow us down, hinder us, and prevent us from achieving the success we want and deserve. What do you need to let go of?

5. “If your hand shakes, embrace the shake.”
Phil Hansen @Philinthecircle

Phil is an artist who suffered nerve damage to his hand and forearm, which prohibited him from working in his preferred style of pointillism. Instead of accepting defeat, he completely changed his approach to art and developed a version of pointillism uniquely his. Every weakness hides a strength. What do you perceive to be a weakness of your company or product? How could you turn that around into a strength?

6. “There are enough forces against you. Don’t be one of them.”—David Newman @dnewman
Most of us are our own worst enemies. How are you sabotaging your own success? How are you standing in your own way? And what are you willing to do about it? How can you instead become your own greatest ally, resource, and cheerleader?

7. “Don’t fake it till you make it, hone it until you own it!”—Robyn Hatcher @SpeakETC
I love it when someone smashes a cliché. Faking doesn’t work, either in the short-term or the long-term. It’s okay to acknowledge what you can’t do. In fact, it gives you credibility. Meanwhile, work on improving what you can do until you’re awesome at it. And then get better still!

8. “People want more of what they can have less of.”—Robert Cialdini @RobertCialdini
Scarcity is a powerful influence factor. People want what they can’t have. How can you employ scarcity in your business? How can you create a sense of exclusivity or exploit the fear of missing out? Limiting availability and opportunity can make a product or service much more desirable.

9. “While you’re waiting for permission, someone else is doing it.”—Carey Lohrenz @CareyLohrenz
We’re taught as children to always ask permission before acting, but in business, that can be a handicap. Often the difference between success and failure is simply taking action. Whether it’s dealing with a customer problem or launching a new product, waiting can be disastrous. Act now.

10. “Focus on your brand’s superfans.”—Shelita Burke @ShelitaBurke
Most of your customers like you. Some of them love you. And a few are absolutely crazy about you. They’re your superfans—your advocates, your cheerleaders, your evangelists. And they’re a tremendous marketing asset. Notice them, acknowledge them, and reward them.

11. “Play offense, not defense. In other words, focus on innovating and playing the game your way, not trying to mimic what your competition is doing.”—Scott McKain @scottmckain
If you try to do what everyone else is doing, you’ll always be a copy. And there will never be a compelling reason for a buyer to choose you. Instead, do something different. Anything. Be creative. Be bold. Be daring. That’s what sales leaders do.

12. “I teamed up with my biggest competitor and we offer a product together.”—Sylvie di Giusto @SylviediGiusto
Your competitors are not necessarily your enemies. They can be resources, allies, and even partners. You have different strengths and weaknesses. And it’s a big market. Who could you team up with to provide a product or service neither of you could offer on your own?

13. “How can I help? How can I serve? What can I do?”—Orlando Bowen @orlandobowen
As I wrote in a recent post, sales is service and service is sales. They’re two sides of the same coin. So if you want to boost your sales—whether you’re a salesperson, sales manager, or business owner—don’t ask “How can I sell more?” Ask these three questions instead.

14. “It’s not what you know, it’s how well you execute.”—Ford Saeks @fordsaeks
It’s often said that knowledge is power. But knowledge doesn’t mean much if it’s not put into action. You may know more than your competitor does, but what are you doing with that knowledge? It’s better to implement one idea well than to implement five ideas poorly. Or to have ten ideas but implement none.

15. “The tribes we choose matter.”—Anna Liotta @AnnaLiotta
Who you associate with influences who you are. Do the people you surround yourself with support, encourage, and challenge you? Or do they drag you down with their narrow-mindedness, jealousy, discouragement, and negativity? Toxic people will do everything in their power to prevent your success, while nurturing people will do everything in their power to help you attain it. Choose wisely.

16. “Discounting is the tax you pay for being average.”—John DiJulius @JohnDiJulius
If you aren’t amazing, spectacular, or somehow unique, then you’re a commodity. And when people buy commodities, they buy on price. Which means unless you’re better or different, you will always face pressure to discount. Because price is your only competitive advantage. So how could you be better or different?

17. “You risk a ‘yes’ every time you ask for something.”—Lois Creamer @loiscreamer
Children understand this concept inherently, but somehow when we become adults we forget it. Ask for things large and small because you just might get them. Ask for a meeting. Ask for the sale. Ask about add-on products and services. Ask for a raise. Ask for help. Ask for anything and everything you want.

18. “Growth is not for the fainthearted.”—Erik Weihenmayer @ErikWeihenmayer
Growth is a pain in the ass. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s humbling. And yet, growth is absolutely essential for success in anything. Which means if you want to achieve your goals and dreams, you need to steel yourself for the difficult, traumatic journey that growth requires.

19. “Let me tell you something about Imposter Syndrome: Imposters don’t feel it.”—Dr. Bertice Berry @DrBerticeBerry
The most profound, insightful, brilliant statement I heard during the entire convention. (And in the closing keynote, no less.) Most of the professionals I know (including yours truly) have struggled with Imposter Syndrome—the feeling that you’re not good enough and it’s only a matter of time before people figure that out—at some point in their careers. But actual imposters know they’re faking it—and have no fear or guilt about it. Which means if you fear you’re not good enough, that’s proof that you really are.

For more insights and ideas from these amazing 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.)

28 Ways to Cripple Your Sales Team

June 26th, 2019

28 Ways to Cripple Your Sales TeamAre your salespeople too efficient? Is their closing rate too high? Are they bringing in more business than you can handle?

It’s a common problem. I see it all the time in my work as a speaker and trainer. I feel your pain.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to handicap even the best salespeople:

1. Don’t provide them ongoing training
2. Don’t coach them
3. Don’t connect them with mentors
4. Set unrealistic quotas
5. Take away part of their territory
6. Give them too large a territory
7. Change their compensation structure so they earn less
8. Withhold positive feedback
9. Withhold constructive feedback
10. Don’t offer any incentives
11. Refuse them time off to attend seminars
12. Use the cheapest CRM
13. Keep them in the dark about competitors
14. Create contests that pit them against each other
15. Make them fill out as much paperwork as possible
16. Don’t give them support staff
17. Require them to work nights and weekends
18. Criticize them in public
19. Transfer the customers who know them best to someone else
20. Force them to sit through endless meetings
21. Frequently berate and belittle them
22. Sexually harass them
23. Spread rumors about them throughout the organization
24. Ignore their requests, ideas, and suggestions
25. Make them pay for as many of their expenses as possible
26. Don’t give them any public praise or recognition
27. Refuse to take them with you to conferences
28. Go behind their backs and talk with their clients directly (bonus points for offering them a better deal than they got from your salesperson)

Think of all the benefits of an unskilled, under-equipped, demotivated sales team: You won’t have to open new plants or locations, you won’t have to struggle to keep up with increasing customer demand, and you won’t have to hire more people. (Heck, you can even lay off some of your customer service staff and save money!)

So if you’re burdened by too much new—and repeat—business, implement these tactics and you’ll slow that torrent of sales down to a trickle. You can thank me later.

Marketing Is Not What You Think It Is

June 20th, 2019

Marketing Is Not What You Think It IsMany people believe that marketing and advertising are the same thing. Or if not, that marketing consists of the promotion you do to drive sales.

But the reality is very different. Marketing is everything you and your business do that can potentially impact sales. And that’s an awful lot. Using this definition, marketing includes:

• Hours of operation
• Number of locations
• Where locations are situated
• Your niche
• Product quality
• Product design
• Packaging
• Services offered
• Delivery policies
• Return policies
• Selection
• Staffing
• Ease of parking
• Parking lot lighting
• Interior lighting
• Market research
• Hold time
• Uniforms or attire
• Vehicles
• Certifications and degrees
• Exterior and interior cleanliness
• Customer service
• Pricing
• Merchandising
• Staff friendliness
• Case studies
• Testimonials
• Bathrooms
• Ease of checkout
• Social media
• Sampling
• Customer surveys
• Split testing
• Responsiveness
• Product names
• Giveaways
• Sales training
• Customer service training
• PR
• Networking
• Charitable and community efforts
• Signage
• Web site
• Blogging
• Contests and sweepstakes
• Strategic partnerships
• R&D
• Association memberships
• Customer reviews

All of these things influence whether or not a person does business with you. Which raises three questions:

1. How many of these strategies and tactics are you currently using?

2. How many are you using well?

3. Which ones could you add or improve?

Almost everyone and everything in your organization plays a role in marketing. Take this to heart and make sure everyone else understands this as well. And be sure to incentivize and appreciate everyone appropriately. Because you can spend a fortune on advertising, but if the other items on this list aren’t good enough, it won’t matter much. Devote more time, money, and efforts to the above factors instead, and it will dramatically improve your long-term sales growth.

Are You Serving or Selling?

June 12th, 2019

Are You Serving or Selling?It has been said by many leadership experts that a great leader is a servant. A true leader isn’t ruled by their greed or their ego, but by their desire to help others.

I would argue that not only is this true, but that it also describes great salespeople, professionals, and business owners.

Contrary to what too many people believe, selling isn’t about manipulating people into giving up their money. (Although there are some people and companies that unfortunately operate that way. Those are con artists, not decent human beings.)

In truth, selling is helping people acquire the things they want and need for a better life or business. A great salesperson helps people solve their problems or achieve their goals. They are advisers, consultants, assistants, counselors, coaches, advocates. They serve their buyers in myriad ways.

So the question isn’t “How can I make the sale?” It’s “How can I be of service?” Because the latter is the answer to the former.

How NOT to Write a Prospecting Email

June 4th, 2019

How NOT to Write a Prospecting EmailEmail can be a great way to reach your prospects. But there are good emails and not-so-good emails. And then there are emails like this one.

I recently received this email from a local hotel. (As a speaker—and someone who produces some of my own seminars—I attend a lot of meetings-industry events, so I probably met somebody from the property at one of them.) The message is clearly an effort to begin a business relationship, but it…..um…..falls short. (All names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

Please see below message, sent on behalf of Elizabeth Parker:

Greetings from The Ritz-Hilton Regency, Bedford Falls!

I would like to take a moment to introduce myself and my colleague. Myself, Elizabeth Parker and my colleague, Alan Madsen, will be your sales contacts for The Ritz-Hilton Regency, Bedford Falls. I am responsible for any groups located south of i-70 as well as the Western United States and Alan is responsible for anything north of i-70 or based in downtown Denver.

We would be honored and delighted to have the opportunity to earn your business. Please find attached a list of concessions that we are able to offer for any program of 15 or more rooms on peak, taking place between April and December during 2019 and 2020. Also attached is a fact sheet about our gorgeous resort and our meeting space.

We look forward to working with you in the near future!

Warm regards,

Elizabeth Parker
Director of National Accounts
The Ritz-Hilton Regency, Bedford Falls
8675 Heartbreak Ridge
South Park, CO 80001
(303) XXX-XXXX

Kindly,

Kim Eubanks
Group Sales Coordinator
The Ritz-Hilton Regency, Bedford Falls
8675 Heartbreak Ridge
South Park, CO 80001
(303) XXX-XXXY

What’s wrong with this email? Hmmm…..let’s see…..

1. Sent on behalf of?
Elizabeth couldn’t be bothered to send her own message? Or at least make it look like she did?

2. Not personalized
There’s no “Hi Don,” or “Dear Don,” or even “Yo, Big D!” Yes, of course it’s a form letter (I know that), but no one even made an effort to personalize it, which smacks of laziness. And no personalization equals no connection.

3. Not conversational
“Myself, Elizabeth Parker and my colleague, Alan Madsen, will be your sales contacts…” Who talks like this? An effective email is conversational in tone for easy reading and comprehension.

4. Grammar and punctuation errors
There are only a couple of mistakes, but even one can undermine the credibility of the writer. Have all sales and marketing pieces proofread before sending out.

5. “i-70” vs. “I-70”
Again, a minor error, but one that further tarnishes the professionalism of the sender. If you can’t be trusted to get simple details like this right, how can I trust you with my business?

6. Too many first-person references
Not counting the signature lines, there are 17 first-person references, including the name of the hotel, the names of the salespeople, and personal pronouns. Meanwhile, there are only three second-person references, for a nearly 6 to 1 ratio. In the wrong direction. Since “you” and “your” are the most powerful words in sales and marketing, you want to aim for a ratio of two or three second-person references for every first-person reference you use.

7. Speaking of the names of the salespeople…
The message introduces “Alan Madsen,” but the second signature features “Kim Eubanks.” What happened to Alan? Who is Kim? What’s going on here???

8. Nothing about my wants or needs
The message is all about the sender, as evidenced by the 17 first-person references. Well, I’ve got news for you: I don’t care what you would like, what you’re responsible for, or what would honor and delight you. I care about me, my business, and my people. Yet there’s not a word in here about any of those things.

9. No value
A great sales or marketing piece delivers value in some way. It might be news, tips, a checklist, a white paper, an interview, a webinar, a template, an invitation to an event, a free consultation, a buyer’s guide, or anything else that could benefit me or my company. But this email is devoid of anything like that. It just takes up my time and offers me nothing in return. Which is not a promising start to a potential business relationship.

How do your emails compare with this one? If you’re cringing a bit, the solution is to get some training for you and your team ASAP. It’s a valuable investment in your future sales. Because while email can be a powerful sales and marketing tool, it requires skill to use it effectively.

A great email causes your prospects to reply, call, or click. A bad one damages your image and hurts your chances of making a sale. Which are you sending out?