16 Things Successful People Don’t Say

August 5th, 2020

16 Things Successful People Don’t SayA while back, I wrote a post listing words and phrases that successful people say on a regular basis. Just as important as what successful people say, however, is what they don’t say.

High achievers understand that just as the right words can solve problems, heal wounds, create connection, and move people to action, the wrong words can frustrate, anger, disappoint, and hurt. Successful people make sure their communication doesn’t disempower themselves or others. So they avoid saying things like:

1. “I can’t.”
2. “That’s not my job.”
3. “Impossible.”
4. “That’s not fair.”
5. “I had no choice.”
6. “That won’t work.”
7. “I’ll do it later.”
8. “It’s my way or the highway.”
9. “That can’t be done.”
10. “Let’s wait and see.”
11. “It’s not my fault.”
12. “We’ve always done it that way.”
13. “That’s not the way we do it here.”
14. “I don’t need any help.’’
15. “That’s not my problem.”
16. “I’m not good enough.”

These words and phrases don’t solve problems—they aggravate them. They demotivate everyone who hears them. (Including yourself.)

So whether you’re a salesperson, manager, or business owner, avoid using these words and phrases. If you catch yourself using one out of habit, take it back and replace it with something more positive. Your customers, employees, colleagues, friends, and family will all appreciate it. And you’ll achieve more as a result.

Sell the Drill, NOT the Hole

July 29th, 2020

Sell the Drill, NOT the Hole

A common cliché in sales training is “Sell the hole, not the drill.”

This maxim stems from the idea that if a person is buying a drill, it’s not because they really want a drill, but because they want a hole. And you should focus on the problem they want to solve, rather than your product. For example:

• What do they need to put a hole in?
• Where do they need the hole?
• How many holes do they need?
• How often do they need to make them?

All of this information is important and valuable.

And yet, it’s overly simplistic. Because you still have to sell the drill. Assuming the person is going to buy a drill—and buy it from you in particular—is dangerously arrogant and can lead to lost sales.

Here’s the thing: There’s a lot of ways a person could create a hole:

• Saw
• Auger
• Chisel
• Ice pick
• Handgun
• Walrus tusk
• Plastic explosive

Arguably, some of these options are worse than others, but the point is, the prospect doesn’t necessarily need a drill to solve their problem. And even if a drill is the obvious answer in their mind, they don’t necessarily need to buy one. They could conceivably borrow one from a friend, relative, or neighbor.

So you actually need to sell the drill. Which is largely guiding them to the right drill for them, based on their needs, budget, and preferences. Helping them understand things like:

• What are the differences among the brands you carry?
• Why should they buy a particular model in your line?
• Should they buy the top-of-the-line drill or the entry-level drill?
• Corded or cordless?
• Do they need the ultimate bit assortment or the basic bit set?

And then, not only do you have to make a case for the drill itself, you have to make the case for your company as the seller. Why should they buy it from you??? Especially when there are dozens of other retailers who would happily sell them the exact same drill. (Many for less than your price.) Failing to adequately answer this crucial question can result in your prospect walking out empty-handed.

Focusing on your buyer’s problem or goal is valuable. Focusing exclusively on it is a mistake. Because there are so many more elements in the sales process. I haven’t even touched on customer experience, listening skills, follow-up, or closing—all of which are essential to your ability to sell a drill.

So don’t get so hung up om your prospect’s need that you forget to make a strong case for your product and your company. Because the hole isn’t the whole story.

Nine Ways to Boost Your Optimism

July 21st, 2020

Nine Ways to Boost Your OptimismThese are turbulent, uncertain, scary times. Which makes a sense of optimism even more important than usual. How can you stay optimistic in the face of so much negativity and uncertainty? Here are nine things you can do.

1. Reminisce
Write down times when you faced a challenge whether it be in sales, another area of business, or your personal life. Remember how you overcame it.

2. Make a strength inventory
List out your personal strengths. Then list out everything else you have on your side. Remind yourself of all your assets.

3. Do a daily review
Write down three good things that happened each day. What made you smile? Or laugh? Or feel grateful?

4. Read biographies of successful people
Every person who has ever achieved success experienced challenges along the way. Let their triumphs inspire yours.

5. Surround yourself with positive quotes
There are literally thousands of inspirational quotations. You can find them all over the internet, including here, here, and here. Post a few of your favorites where you’ll see them regularly.

6. Try the “Best Possible Self” exercise
A meta-analysis of 34 studies found that the “Best Possible Self” exercise can create small but measurable increases in positivity and optimism. Here’s how to do it:

1. Pick a time in the future, e.g. 6 months, 2 years, 10 years.

2. Visualize your best self, living your best life. What are you doing? Where are you living? Who are you with? How are you spending your time? What goals have you achieved? What is bringing you joy?

3. Write it down, in as much detail as possible. What does it look like? How does it feel?

7. Regulate your news intake
When the news is bad, overconsuming it can be draining. Don’t completely ignore the news, but ration your intake. Scan the headlines so you know what’s going on, but don’t dwell on it and get sucked into the negativity.

8. Spend time with positive people
Speaking of sucking you into a state of negativity, that’s exactly what toxic people do. They are inherently miserable, and their goal is to make others miserable too. So avoid them as much as possible. Instead, increase the amount of time you spend with people who are positive, optimistic, and encouraging.

9. Consume inspirational content regularly
People often refer to me as a motivational speaker, although that’s not quite accurate. I’m really more of a sales speaker. However, I do know a lot of motivational speakers. People like:

Dr. Bertice Berry
Walter Bond 
Brené Brown
Roger Crawford 
John Crudele
Pegine Echevarria
Scott Friedman
Randy Gage
Elisa Hays
Willie Jolley
Brad Montgomery
Stacy Pederson
Billy Selekane 
Marilyn Sherman
Jim Smith, Jr.
Dawnna St. Louis
Dan Thurmon
Iyanla Vanzant 

And that’s just a sampling! And they’re all producing uplifting, energizing, inspirational content via tweets, blogs, books, videos, and podcasts. Check them out.

Optimism is a key ingredient in achieving success—in sales or in any other endeavor. So it’s critical that you remain positive despite the fear, anxiety, and negativity all around us. Make use of these nine strategies as often as possible to keep your sense of optimism healthy. It will help you not just to survive these trying times, but to succeed despite them.

Call Me the %&#$ Back

July 7th, 2020

Call Me the %&#$ Back I recently helped my 82-year-old aunt move from Maryland to Texas. Part of that effort included contacting a variety of businesses: the moving company, the title company, utilities, banks, two phone companies, and more. And at various points in the process, people from five different companies promised to call us back.

And never did.

When I finally reached them—or someone else—as a result of calling them back, I received excuses. Lots of excuses. But the damage had already been done. We were beyond disappointed. We were pissed. In some cases, livid.

Think we overreacted? If you’ve ever been involved with an interstate move, you know how difficult it is to coordinate so many different elements. Now throw in a global pandemic, racial protests, curfews, and business closures and the complexity skyrockets. Along with the stress.

We didn’t need more of it.

Think about that for a moment. My aunt was paying all these companies to relieve her stress, not increase it. And yet, increase our stress was precisely what five of them did. By not following up with answers and information when promised, they made our jobs—and our lives—more difficult.

When you—or someone from your company—fails to call a prospect or customer back, it not only elevates their stress, it also:

• creates frustration
• makes them angry
• erodes trust in you and your company
• damages your brand

Which can result in your potential buyer:

• Leaving negative reviews on social media and review sites
• Trying out your competitors
• Losing interest in what they were thinking of buying

All of which hurts your sales, revenues, and profits.

And you can avoid all of it with a simple phone call.

67 Quotes for Getting Through Tough Times

June 10th, 2020

67 Quotes for Getting Through Tough TimesA global pandemic. Record unemployment. Business closures. Racial protests. To say these are tough times is an understatement. We’re all stressed, frustrated, anxious, and discouraged. Which means we can all use some words of encouragement. Here are some of my current favorites for helping me stay in the right frame of mind.

1. “Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.”—Richard L. Evans

2. “Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”—Wayne Dyer

3. “Hold the vision, not the circumstances.”—Mary Morrissey

4. “You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.”—Sammy Davis, Jr.

5. “Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.”—Stephanie Bennett Henry

6. “Trying is winning in the moment.”—Dan Waldschmidt

7. “As important as keeping a grasp on reality is keeping a grasp on possibility.”—Robert Brault

8. “Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”—Ella Fitzgerald

9. “The jungle is dark but full of diamonds.”—Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

10. “It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.”—Nancy Thayer

11. “What we face may look insurmountable. But what I learned is that we are always stronger than we know.”—Arnold Schwarzenegger

12. “Hope is like the sun—if you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night.”—Leia Organa, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

13. “Difficulties in life are intended to make us better not bitter.”—Dan Reeves

14. “If you’re beat up, don’t GIVE up: REST up, then GET up.”—Tristan Bishop

15. “Eliminate the phrase, ‘I can’t because…’ It’s a roadblock to ongoing growth and profitability.”—Janet Attard

16. “We cannot cure the world of sorrow, but we can choose to live in joy. You’ve got to find the force inside you.”—Joseph Campbell

17. “Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”—Chuck Jones

18. “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. Go outside, to the field, enjoy nature and the sunshine. Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you. Be happy.”—Anne Frank

19. “He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.”—Cesare Pavese

20. “When we create hope and opportunity in the lives of others, we allow love, decency, and promise to triumph over cowardice and hate.”—Kirsten Gillebrand

21. “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”—German Proverb

22. “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”—Noam Chomsky

23. “We are the White Knight we’ve been waiting for.”—Sam Horn

24. “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”—Nelson Mandela

25. “A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Sometimes in life it’s the only weapon we have.”—Roger Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

26. “Failure is like a mandatory truck stop on the road to success. It ain’t where you’re headed, but it’s part of the journey.”—Brad Montgomery

27. “I count my blessings more than I count my money.”—Dolly Parton

28. “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
—Vincent Van Gogh

29. “Of all the choices you make each day none is more important than the choice of a positive attitude.”—Steve Keating

30. “Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”—Glenda Cloud

31. “Embrace your greatest challenges. If you don’t face them, no one will ever know what you are capable of. Not even you.”—Randy Gage

32. “Success is the culmination of failures, mistakes, false starts, confusion, and the determination to keep going anyway.”—Nick Gleason

33. “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”—Maya Angelou

34. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”—Henry Ford

35. “You cannot beat a river into submission. You have to surrender to its current and use its power as your own.”—The Ancient One, Dr. Strange

36. “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”—Regina Brett

37. “Before you can win the fight, you’ve got to be in the fight.”—Bill Walsh

38. “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”—Mary Anne Radmacher

39. “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it.”—Jesse Owens

40. “The power to affect your future lies within your own hands.”—Nido Qubein

41. “Whatever you fear most has no power—it is your fear that has the power. The thing itself cannot touch you. But if you allow your fear to seep into your mind and overtake your thoughts, it will rob you of your life.”—Oprah Winfrey

42. “I am in love with hope.”—Mitch Albom

43. “Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
—Langston Hughes

44. “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.”–Wilma Rudolph

45. “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the ones who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”—George Bernard Shaw

46. “Do not give up. It’s amazing how things can turn themselves around.”
—Karen Salmansohn

47. “Fear is terrified of a plan.”—Mike Staver

48. “There are always two voices sounding in our ears—the voice of fear and the voice of confidence. One is the clamor of the senses, the other is the whispering of the higher self.”—Charles B. Newcomb

49. “You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.”—Marian Wright Edelman

50. “Hold on to your dreams of a better life and stay committed to striving to realize it.”—Earl G. Graves, Sr.

51. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”—Martin Luther

52. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”—Amelia Earhart

53. “I have never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.”—Paul Harvey

54. “When I was a little boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”—Mr. Rogers

55. “There is nothing we cannot live down, rise above or overcome.”—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

56. “Beware of quitting too soon. Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 23 publishers. The 24th sold six million copies.”—Ann Landers

57. “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.”—Steve Maraboli

58. “Today’s an awesome day to start your finest life. In a year, you’ll regret not beginning today.”—Robin Sharma

59. “People who expect positive results are more likely to produce them.”
—Heshie Segal

60. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”—Victor Frankel

61. “Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.”—George Washington Carver

62. “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”—Shirley Chisholm

63. “When you can’t do what you do … do what you can.”—Jon Bon Jovi

64. “You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”—Charles C. Noble

65. “Action is the antidote to despair.”—Joan Baez

66. “Don’t dwell on reality; it will only keep you from greatness.”—Randall R. McBride, Jr.

67. “Hope is not a strategy, but you can’t achieve success without it.”—Don Cooper

What are some of your favorite encouraging, inspiring quotes? Share them in the comments below!

Practice DOESN’T Make Perfect

June 2nd, 2020

Practice DOESN’T Make PerfectThe dojo where I’ve been training in aikido for the past dozen years recently reopened for class on a very limited basis. Despite numerous safety precautions, however, a lot of students are—understandably—not yet comfortable returning to train. In fact, at a recent class, I was the only student.

Which was awesome!

I got a full hour of one-on-one instruction with our sensei. He was able to focus on every detail of what I was doing, and as a result, was able to point out small flaws in my form that were significantly impacting my effectiveness. When I corrected those flaws, I could immediately feel the difference.

Here’s what’s frustrating: I thought I was better than I actually was. I’ve been practicing those techniques for years. I thought I was great at them.

Here’s the light bulb: Practice only helps you get better if you’re practicing correctly. If you practice something wrong, you’re going to get wronger. (Yes, that’s a word. Or at least, it should be.)

Practicing something incorrectly can actually be detrimental because the mistakes become ingrained, and thus, harder to correct. As I’ve been practicing those techniques since that momentous class, I’ve noticed that I really have to concentrate on the corrections because doing it wrong feels so natural.

Which is not to say that practice isn’t valuable, because it absolutely is. To get the most out of it, though, you need instruction, guidance, and feedback. Which can come from a teacher, a coach, a mentor, or a boss. Like with so many things in sales, business, and life in general, trying to “lone wolf” it won’t get you the results you want.

So if you’re frustrated because you don’t seem to be getting better at prospecting, qualifying, presenting, or closing—despite the fact you’ve been doing them for a long time—seek out someone who can correct what’s wrong and emphasize what’s right with your technique. That will make your practice far more effective. And while even effective practice won’t make you perfect—none of us ever will be—it will definitely make you better.

Would you like some instruction, guidance, and feedback to help you boost your sales? Check out my Sales Mastermind program!

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.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change
“We don’t have the budget for that.”
to
“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.

Now is a Great Time To…

April 28th, 2020

Now is a Great Time To…Right now is a terrible time for most businesses. Sales have plummeted, doors are closed, and employees have been laid off by the tens of millions.

And yet…

There’s always a positive in every negative situation. I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna (because I’m definitely not one), but it’s true. And if you’re a salesperson, marketing executive, small business owner, or CEO, you need to find the positive and act on it. Because if you can do that, not only will you make it through the current crisis, you’ll be positioned to succeed in the aftermath.

What kinds of positives? Well, right now is a great time to…

Define your ideal client
Clearly understanding who your ideal customer is enables you to maximize your sales and marketing efforts. What do your best clients have in common? Where can you find more of them? What’s the best message to communicate to them?

Check on your customers
How are your existing clients doing at the moment? How can you help them survive this turmoil? Now is the time to strengthen your customer relationships. Taking care of your clients today will ensure they stay with you for life.

Give something away
HBO is giving free access to 500 hours of its best programming. Taco Bell has been giving a free Doritos Locos taco every Tuesday. Wendy’s is giving customers a free Frosty with every order. Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness are providing free workout videos. (To work off those tacos and Frostys.) Hotels are giving free rooms to medical personnel and first-responders. And they’re all getting free publicity for their efforts. What could your company give away?

Find ways to partner with other companies
Which of your competitors could you conceivably partner with to do something neither of you alone could pull off? And what companies who aren’t competitors, but serve the same market that you do, could you cooperate with for mutual benefit?

Identify a new market
Who else needs what you provide? How could you tweak your existing products or services for a different customer base?

Create a new product or service
What do Rice Krispies, Miracle Whip, chocolate chip cookies, Diet Coke, ketchup, Twinkies, and the aforementioned Doritos Locos taco have in common? (Besides the fact they’re all delicious?) They were all invented during economic downturns. Ditto for Scotch tape, the iPod, fluorescent light bulbs, nylon, car radios, tampons, and the electric razor. I’m currently creating two new keynote speeches and a new coaching program. How could you innovate your way out of this crisis?

Improve your social media efforts
Social media is an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool, and yet most companies don’t use it effectively. Right now is an ideal time to explore the platforms you’re not currently using and get better with the platforms you are using.

Study and train
Among the most common excuses people give for not engaging in professional development or training their teams are that they’re too busy or they don’t want to take their people out of the field. WELL, YOU’RE NOT VERY BUSY NOW, ARE YOU? And your people sure as hell aren’t in the field! So use this downtime to arm yourself and your teams with new skills, insights, ideas, and tactics.

Hire people
If you’re in a position to hire people, there’s never been a better time. There are more than 26 million people looking for work, which means you have the pick of the litter.

There are always opportunities around. They may not be the opportunities you were expecting, they may not be as big or as plentiful as you’d like, they may not be easy to find, but they’re there. And how well you survive this crisis, and how well you do after it’s over, will largely depend on how well you identify and act on the opportunities that exist.

So seize them. Now.

26 Ways to Keep Your Stress Down and Your Energy Up

April 21st, 2020

26 Ways to Keep Your Stress Down and Your Energy UpIn my last post, I discussed the dangerous physical and mental effects of elevated cortisol levels and how laughter can lower them. As awesome as laughter is, though, it’s not the only way to reduce cortisol levels. There are a lot of things you can do to combat cortisol. Here are 26 proven ways:

1. Exercise
2. Meditate
3. Eat healthy
4. Get enough sleep
5. Drink plenty of water
6. Spend time on a hobby
7. Play games
8. Do puzzles
9. Work in your garden
10. Socialize (virtually, for the time being)
11. Read inspiring books and blogs
12. Watch inspiring videos, TV shows, and movies
13. Listen to music
14. Plan, strategize, create, and think
15. Indulge in dark chocolate
16. Chew gum
17. Consume probiotics and prebiotics
18. Drink black or green tea
19. Journal
20. Practice tai chi or another martial art
21. Touch—hugging, cuddling, sex, back rubs, holding hands, etc.
22. Adopt a pet
23. Forgive yourself and release guilt
24. Forgive others and release anger
25. Practice your spirituality
26. Engage in a creative activity—draw, paint, write, etc.

Now, more than ever, taking proactive care of your health is critical to your sales, business, and personal success. Include as many of these strategies into your daily routine as possible, not just now, but after the COVID-19 crisis passes. You’ll reduce your stress and anxiety, while boosting your energy and mental clarity. You’ll be more positive, creative, and productive. All of which will benefit your sales, your company, and your family.

Why You Need to Laugh in the Face of Death (And How to Do It)

April 14th, 2020

Why You Need to Laugh in the Face of DeathThese are difficult times. The death toll from COVID-19 keeps climbing. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Sports, proms, conferences, festivals, trade shows, concerts, seminars, and more have been cancelled. And uncertainty is everywhere.

What can you do at a time like this?

Laugh.

Let me explain.

We’re actually dealing with two pandemics at the moment. One, of course, is COVID-19. The other, is cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. As Web MD puts it: “Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It’s best known for helping fuel your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ instinct in a crisis.”

To enable you to deal with a threat, cortisol affects your heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, metabolism, and more. It’s a critical hormone for survival.

But cortisol works best as a temp: It comes in when it’s needed, then takes off when its job is done. It doesn’t make a good full-time employee.

Because elevated cortisol levels over a prolonged period of time can cause or exacerbate serious health problems, including:

• anxiety
• depression
• diabetes
• digestive issues
• fatigue
• headaches
• heart disease
• high blood pressure
• high cholesterol
• learning impairment
• mental cloudiness
• osteoporosis
• poor memory
• reduced immune function
• trouble sleeping
• weight gain

Which means, when you experience extended bouts of extreme stress—such as if you’re unemployed, in an abusive relationship, caring for a sick loved one, or (I can’t help but point out) living during a global pandemic—you’re at risk for all of the above. And all of those issues negatively impact your ability to think, create, work, and sell.

Fortunately, in this situation, laughter is literally the best medicine.

Laughter has been proven to reduce cortisol levels, along with the levels of other stress hormones, such as epinephrine and dopamine. Laughter also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Studies conducted in 2006 and 2008 found that even just anticipating the opportunity to laugh can reduce stress hormones while boosting health-protecting ones.

Humor and Sales 1But wait, there’s more!

Laughing impacts almost every part of the body. Laughter can:

• increase oxygen intake
• stimulate circulation
• aid muscle relaxation
• ease pain
• lessen depression and anxiety
• reduce stress
• fight inflammation
• improve your mood, outlook, and confidence
• increase the number of antibody-producing cells
• enhance the effectiveness of T cells

Which means that laughing regularly can boost your immune system, your mental health, your cardiovascular system, and more. It’s one of the most effective tools for coping with stress, fear, frustration, and uncertainty.

Humor and Sales 2So as we are deluged by negativity in the news and in our personal lives, it’s critical to find the funny and create opportunities for laughter. Wondering how? Here are ten ways.

1. Watch comedies
If you’re going to sit on your couch and watch movies, they might as well be funny ones. Looking for recommendations? Check out:

The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films
BBC Culture’s 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time
150 Essential Comedy Movies to Watch Now

2. Binge on sitcoms, sketch shows, and cartoons
Whether via cable, satellite, or your favorite streaming service, there are tons of new and classic sitcoms—and other comedy shows—perfect for binging. (By the way, all four seasons of the groundbreaking British comedy series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus are now available on Netflix!)

3. Call your funny friends
Everybody has at least one friend who’s a laugh riot. Call them and tell them you need a laugh. They’ll be happy to help. (I love, love, love making people laugh.)

4. Listen to stand-up comics
Sometimes you have to call in the professionals. Look for your favorite stand-up comedians—or find new ones—on your cable or satellite On Demand service, your streaming services, or online.

Humor and Sales 35. Read funny books
I’m currently reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Every chapter has me literally laughing until tears stream down my face. Also rereading Brain Droppings by George Carlin because he never stops being funny. Oh, and if you like your monster, demon, and vampire stories on the humorous side, check out the novels of Christopher Moore.

6. Follow funny blogs
There are a lot of funny people out there creating funny content every day. Check out:

The Funniest Single Topic Blogs
Top 50 Humor Blogs
Top 100 Humor Blogs and Websites to Follow

7. Play with your kids
Children are inherently funny. And they’ll laugh at almost anything. And laughter is contagious!

8. Read comic strips
Most modern comic strips are available online. And there’s no shortage of comic collections available at Amazon and other online bookstores. (Calvin & Hobbes still makes me laugh out loud.)

Humor and Sales 59. Join a humor group on Facebook
I belong to several Facebook groups in which members post videos, jokes, cartoons, and memes. There are groups for every type and sense of humor.

10. Watch funny videos on YouTube
Just type the word “funny” into YouTube’s search engine and you’ll be laughing for hours.

The goal is to laugh every day. Several times a day. Heartily. Unabashedly. It’s one of the most powerful success habits you can cultivate. It will make you a better salesperson, leader, parent, and friend. A good sense of humor will help you face up to challenges from minor annoyances to death itself.

I’m fortunate to come from a family of people who laugh in the face of death. Visiting my grandfather in hospice during the last weeks of his life, he made me laugh. While my father fought his losing battle with cancer, he and I laughed together. And on my aunt Janet’s final night on this earth, as she lay in bed, hooked to an oxygen tank, barely able to speak, her daughter (my cousin Laura) and I made her laugh, and she made us laugh. (And we all made the hospice nurse laugh.)

Humor and Sales 4In dark times, laughter is an act of defiance. It’s an act of solidarity and community. It is life-affirming in the extreme. Laughing enables us to take charge of our mood, attitude, and outlook when everything else seems out of our control. It’s empowering, both physically and mentally. And making others laugh improves their well-being.

So find the funny. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others.

Laugh. And live.

29 Ways to Improve Your Virtual Presentations

April 7th, 2020

29 Ways to Improve Your Virtual PresentationsThe current “Social Distancing” and “Shelter at Home” requirements have resulted in millions of people conducting virtual presentations for the first time.

And it shows.

Which is understandable. Our first attempts at most things leave a lot to be desired. And virtual presentations have a lot more challenges and elements to be managed than typical presentations. I should know—I’ve been conducting webinars, eLearning courses, web conferences, and online sales presentations for more than twenty years. (Remember back when dial-up was still a thing?)

I’ve learned a lot over that time. (Much of it, the hard way.) So let me share with you a few strategies, tips, and tricks for knocking your next virtual presentations out of the virtual park.

1. Set and manage expectations
Is it a webinar or a meeting? How long will it last? What is the goal? Who will be allowed to talk and for long?

2. Start on time
Starting late punishes those who log on early and encourages everyone to be late in the future.

3. Engage participants before start time
To incentivize people to log in early, provide entertainment or information to early arrivals. Play a game or hold a contest with prizes.

4. End on time
The only thing attendees hate more than starting late is ending late. Plan on less time than you have to allow for questions, tangents, and technical glitches. And because your slides or presentation platform can cover up the clock on your screen, keep a separate clock in your line of sight.

5. Get the light right
Arguably nothing makes a bigger difference in how you’re perceived than how you’re lit. You want enough light on you to be seen clearly, but not so much that you’re washed out. I have a large window in front of my desk, and I have to close it for presentations because even the ambient light is too much. Go for artificial light—preferably a wide source of dim light. Avoid using one or two bright bulbs, because that will result in “hot spots”—bright areas on your cheeks, nose, and forehead.) Also, make sure you aren’t backlit—close the blinds or curtains on any windows in the room and turn off lights aimed in the direction of your camera.

6. Enable your video
The whole point of optimizing your lighting is so you can be seen, which is one of the most important elements of a video conference. Don’t just show people your PowerPoint slides, let them see you.

7. Check your sound level
Besides being seen, you also need to be heard. So check your sound levels in advance.

8. Upgrade your audio and video
While we’re on the subject of being seen and heard clearly, you may want to consider investing in an external camera and microphone. Both will significantly improve the technical quality of your presentations.

9. Mute mics when you don’t actively want conversation
Although you want to be heard, you don’t necessarily want everyone to be heard. So if you’re doing a webinar, or some other type of presentation to a large or medium-sized group, mute everyone’s microphone. Don’t depend on the attendees to do it, because invariably someone will forget. On the other hand, if you’re talking with only a few people and you want to encourage conversation, then leave everyone’s mic open. (But let them know their mics are live unless they mute them.)
 
Not muting your mic is the new "reply all"
 
10. Look at the camera
It’s natural to look at your slides, or the video feeds of your participants, or—especially—the video of yourself as you talk. But that means you’re not making eye contact with your virtual audience. Make an effort to look at the camera instead.

11. Raise your computer
Speaking of looking at the camera, are you looking down at it? Most people do, which shows off your nostrils and emphasizes your double chin. (Well, not your double chin. Other people’s.) Put your laptop on a stand, a raiseable desk, or a cardboard box (super high-tech) to elevate the camera to eye level.

12. Practice “Social Video Distancing”
If you’re too close to the camera, your audience sees only your eyes and nose. If you’re too far away, your audience can neither see nor hear you well. Shoot for roughly the top third of your body in frame, which is typically about an arm’s length from the camera.
 

 
13. Hardwire your computer to the internet
Wi-fi is great and all, but sometimes it can slow down or even go out entirely without warning. Using a hardwired connection guarantees you more reliability.

14. Learn your platform
Whether you use Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, or something else, learn the ins and outs of it. There are plenty of tutorials online.

15. Make it interactive
Every platform has options for encouraging interactivity. You can present polls, ask participants to raise their hands, or divide them into breakout groups. You can also ask questions and either have them type their answers in the chat or voice the answers while you record them on a digital whiteboard.

16. Understand your security settings
There have been reports of virtual meetings being hijacked and other dangers of online meetings. Learn your platform’s security settings and use them.

17. Use large type on your slides
You don’t know what kind of device your attendees are watching your presentation on. It could very well be a tablet or a phone. And even if they’re watching on a laptop or desktop, they may not be using their full screen to look at your slide deck. In both cases, if your text isn’t huge, they won’t be able to read it at all. (One more reason you don’t want to fill your slides with lots of text.)

18. Use minimal animation on your slides
Lag time means your animations won’t be fast or smooth. So keep them to a minimum. Or don’t even use them at all. Trust me, nobody will notice. (“Did you see those animations? Those were awesome!” said no one ever.)

19. Prep your computer
The less your computer is doing, the better. So close other programs, clear your cache, and reboot in advance of your presentation.

20. Eliminate noisemakers
Silence your cell and your landline. (Along with your fax and your pager, of course.) And mute or turn off anything else in the room that might conceivably make a noise.

21. Make sure everyone else knows you’re on a call
On the same subject, let your family—or your colleagues—know not to disturb you. Because if you don’t, there’s a 100% certainty that your kids will choose that exact moment to challenge the dog to a bark-off, bang pots and pans together, or practice their trombone for the first time in weeks.

22. Let attendees know if you’re recording
If you’re recording the presentation, warn your audience so they have the option of turning off their video in the event they don’t want to be preserved for posterity.

zoom meeting audio vs video-
 
23. Get to the point quickly
Don’t waste your audience’s time. Keep in mind that it’s easier for online attendees to tune you out and focus on other things. If you lose them in the first few minutes, you’re not getting them back.

24. Amp up your enthusiasm
As important as enthusiasm is in a live, in-person presentation, it’s even more important in a virtual one. Your participants can’t feel your energy, so they need to really see and hear it.

25. Remember—the rules of good live presentations still apply
What works in person still works online:

a. Open with something attention-grabbing
b. Your slides are not your presentation
c. Tell stories
d. Use appropriate humor
e. Appeal to both logic and emotion
f. Use visuals
g. Include a call to action
h. Close memorably

26. Have someone else monitor the chat
It’s nearly impossible to pay attention to the chat window while you’re presenting. But used effectively, the chat is a great forum for ideas, comments, and questions. So arrange for another person to monitor the chat and to alert you when something is worthy of attention.

27. Upload additional files
Most—if not all—platforms have the ability to upload files that participants can download during the presentation. Use this feature to easily distribute handouts, articles, proposals, contracts, photos, videos, or even your slide deck exclusively to attendees.

28. Rehearse and practice
Want to deliver a good virtual presentation? Rehearse. Want to deliver great virtual presentations consistently? Practice! (Bonus tip: Record your practice sessions and watch the videos.)

29. Take glitches in stride
As I mentioned, I’ve been doing virtual presentations for a couple decades, and I’ve rarely been on one—either as a presenter or an attendee—where something didn’t go wrong. It’s the nature of the beast. With so many things that can wrong, it’s almost assured that something will. Expect it and don’t let it throw you. Fortunately, most glitches are small and quickly forgotten. And even the bigger ones are only as significant as you make them. Deal with the issue, laugh it off, and get back to your message.

While I don’t believe that in-person presentations will ever be completely replaced, virtual presentations are definitely here to stay. So the time is right to get really good at delivering them. Learn them, love them, and leverage them. Your boss, your customers, and your sales will thank you.

23 Tips for Working from Home

March 31st, 2020

23 Tips for Working from HomeThe world has changed. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states in the US—and many other parts of the world—are under “Shelter at Home” orders. Which means that millions of people who used to go to an office every day are now working at home. Most of them for the first time.

If you’re one of them, you may be struggling with this sudden—and massive—transition. As someone who has worked from home for more than two decades, I can attest that it’s not as easy as some people believe it is. But it’s not an insurmountable challenge either. Here are 23 tips, tricks, and strategies for staying productive while staying at home.

1. Work in one place if you can
Whether it’s a spare bedroom or your dining room table, try to keep your work area in place, rather than working all over the house. That will make it easier to find what you need and will help prevent your work life and home life from blurring together.

2. Maintain regular work hours
Similarly, try to work the same hours you do at the office. Don’t let your work time bleed into your family or personal time.

3. Set ground rules with family or roommates
To help achieve items 1 and 2, talk with the people you live with to set and manage expectations. When do you—and others—need quiet time? When can you be available during the day? Who will take care of the kids?

4. Create and stick with a morning routine
The transition between home and work is tougher when they’re the same physical location. So create a routine that gets you into work mode each morning.

5. Use the best chair you havearchaeologist working from home
A good chair makes all the difference.

6. Ask for what you need
What if you don’t have a good chair? Or a decent printer? Or a second monitor? Or something else you need to be effective? Ask your company. And if they can’t provide it, ask your friends and your network if you can rent, buy, or borrow it from them.

7. Overcommunicate
Since some of the usual communication channels have been interrupted, it’s important to ensure good communication continues. In this situation, more is better. And to make communication easier and more effective, let people know your preferred communication tools and find out theirs as well. Also, be sure to share documents frequently via your sharing services.

8. It’s okay to work in your PJs
A lot of people recommend dressing professionally every day, but I say to hell with that. Wear whatever you want. Be comfortable. If you’re not going to be on a video call, who cares if you’re wearing a suit? Or dress shoes? Or pantyhose? (I haven’t worn pantyhose in YEARS.)

9. Exercise regularly
With gyms, yoga studios, and martial arts dojos closed indefinitely, this is harder than before. But you still can—and should—get some kind of exercise in on a daily basis. Even if it’s just going for a walk.

10. Eat healthy snacks
As best you can, resist the siren call of donuts, chips, and cookies. To help, keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand—fruit, vegetables, whole wheat crackers, hummus, protein bars, beef jerky, nuts, cheese, and yogurt. (Oh, and by the way, I consider dark chocolate to be healthy!)

marine biologist working from home11. Take plenty of breaks
You’re dealing with more challenges and higher stress levels than normal. Take frequent breaks.

12. Get outside
Fresh air and sunshine are crucial for your physical and mental well-being.

13. Listen to music
Music can be relaxing or energizing. It can elevate your mood and enhance your creativity. Also, it can block out background noises from elsewhere in your home.

14. Socialize virtually
Let’s be honest—It sucks not being able to meet people for lunch or coffee. Or happy hour. Or ice cream. Especially if—like me—you live alone. Human beings are social animals (even us introverts) and we crave connection. Fortunately, many people are creating virtual gatherings and events, which give you a chance to meet and talk with people online. I’ve been doing this a lot and trust me, it helps.

15. Use social media wisely
Social media can also help with the isolation, but it can be a rabbit hole that’s easy to fall into. And before you know it, hours have passed. Regulate how much time you spend on social media each day and be strategic about it.

16. Make the most of online meetings
Workers who have never been part of an online meeting are now attending them on a regular basis. A few tips:

a. Learn your platform. Whether it’s Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, or something else, learn the ins and outs of it. There are plenty of tutorials online.

b. Get on group calls early. Punctuality is just as important as with a physical meeting.

c. Use video. If people can’t see you, they assume you aren’t actually there. (And by the way, it’s typically okay for your kids or pets to be on video with you.)

d. Get a decent microphone and headset if necessary.

e. Mute your mic when you’re not talking.

f. Dress and groom as best you can. But don’t stress about it. With all the salons closed, everyone’s hair is getting crazier by the day. And on video calls, no one can tell if you’re wearing sweatpants.

17. Check in on people’s mental health
Whether it’s your clients, your colleagues, your employees, or your friends and family, check on them regularly. Just hearing from you and knowing you care can be a huge boost for them.

18. Take advantage of online training
I’ve been conducting and participating in online training since 2000. I can tell you it’s come a long way since the time of dial-up connections. And there’s more of it than ever before, much of it free! To get you started, here’s a great online resource with both live and recorded sales training programs, all free of charge: The Sales Experts Channel.

19. Enjoy your former commute timelifeguard working from home
That time in the morning and evening you used to spend in the car or on the train? Use it! Spend it with your spouse, kids, or pets. Utilize it for that hobby you haven’t done it years. Or start work a little early and use that time for additional—or longer—breaks during the day.

20. Take sick days and personal days
If you actually get sick—whether with coronavirus, the flu, a cold, or anything else—by all means use your sick days! And even if you’re not sick, this may be an ideal time to take some personal days or some of those unused vacation days that have been sitting there. (One recent study found that 75% of Americans don’t take all of their paid vacation days.)

21. Stay positive
With all the negative news out there—not to mention all the disruption in our lives—our psyches are under assault. Fear, anxiety, grief, frustration, and uncertainty threaten to shut down our ability to function effectively. Counter it by finding the good, both out in the world and within your own life. Appreciate everything and everyone. And if you’re really feeling down, reach out to someone.

22. Take advantage of your new perks
One of the positives to focus on is the perks of working from home. What can you do now that you couldn’t do when you were stuck in an office? Perhaps cook or bake? (I have a friend who has been baking bread almost every day, something she loves.) Have lunch with the family? Spend more time with your dogs or cats?

23. Cut yourself some slack
We have all been thrust into this new reality and we’re all struggling with it. Nobody expects you to be perfect. So don’t expect it from yourself. At various times you may feel lonely, scared, unmotivated, angry, frustrated, anxious, or stressed. That’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. (I’ve felt all those things in the course of an hour.) If you’re a salesperson, you’re probably not selling a whole lot right now. That’s understandable. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, practice self-care. Do what you need to in order to feel better. Watch a movie. Eat a donut. Take a nap. Hug your spouse or your kids. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s all right to not be at your best. Just do what you can with what you have.

By the way, if you’re a manager or other leader, cut your team some slack. And let them know. Your people need your support now more than ever. Do everything you can for them. Take care of them and they’ll take care of your customers. The only way we’re all getting though this is together.

The Most Important Question You Can Ask Right Now

March 24th, 2020

The Most Important Question You Can Ask Right NowThe COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world. The disease—and the government responses to it—have affected every industry, with impacts ranging from mild to devastating.

One of the best things you can do in this unprecedented environment is to ask questions:

• “What can we do to keep our employees and customers safe?”
• “How can we convert physical meetings to virtual ones?”
• “What impacts will this have on our business, short-term and long-term?”
• “How can we replace lost revenue?”
• “What expenses can we cut or postpone?”
• “How should we change our marketing messaging?”

I submit, though, that the single best question you can ask right now—and for the immediate future—is:

“How can I help?”

In my keynote speeches and seminars, I define sales as “Helping people acquire the things they want and need for a better life.”

That’s a pretty broad definition. And deliberately so. Because selling involves a lot more than persuading a person to part with their money. Selling includes:

• Educating people
• Making them feel comfortable and confident
• Solving their problems
• Assisting them in making good decisions
• Making them look good to others
• Finding ways to enable them to afford what they need
• Delivering value

At this very moment, you can do a lot of those things. And the key to figuring out which of the above you can accomplish is to ask the question, “How can I help?” (And alternatively, “How can we help?”)

Right now, everybody—your clients, your vendors, your employees, your partners, your community—is struggling with more challenges than ever before. So ask everybody how you can help them.

And make it clear that you’re not just looking for ways to sell something to them, but rather, ways to serve them. Because as I say again and again, sales is service and service is sales. And now—more than ever—the world needs our service.

Let me close this post by asking you—How can I help?

Why People Buy Taffy (And what it means for YOUR sales)

March 3rd, 2020

Why People Buy TaffyIn 1885, Joseph Fralinger—a former glassblower and fish merchant—took over a taffy stand in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He bought some books on candy-making and set about learning the business. Before long, he was offering 25 different flavors of saltwater taffy and was one of the most successful candy shops on the Boardwalk.

But this story isn’t about the taffy. It’s about the way Fralinger sold it.

Looking for ways to boost his candy sales, Fralinger came up with the idea for a “souvenir box.” At the time, taffy was sold by the piece or the bag, and Fralinger reasoned that if he offered taffy in a prepackaged one-pound box, people might be inclined to purchase the larger amount.

Fralinger ordered 200 boxes printed with pictures of the Atlantic City skyline, the beach, the boardwalk, and sunbathers. He then filled the boxes with a pound of assorted taffy.

They sold out in less than a day.

Fralinger had stumbled onto an important concept: People weren’t just buying taffy—they were buying memories.

And that concept is part of a larger principle: When people buy a product or service, it’s often for a reason that has nothing to do with that product or service.

How can you profit from this principle? Think of the reasons people buy your product or service. Then go beyond those obvious reasons. Dig deeper. Get into your customers’ psyches. What emotional needs are they trying to fill?

Once you’ve figured that out, brainstorm ways you can help them fill those emotional needs. What tweaks can you make to your products, your packaging, your services, your sales process, your customer care, etc.?

Undertaking this exercise can boost both your sales and your profits, because people will happily pay more when you meet their deepest, most compelling needs. (Note that a one-pound “souvenir box” costs more than a pound of taffy in a plastic bag.)

The “souvenir box” quickly spread to other candy shops in Atlantic City and eventually, to candy stores—as well as theme parks, resorts, museums, and airports—around the world because it taps into a powerful buying motivator. And it’s a motivator that you can tap into as well.

Chew on that for a while.

How NOT to Market on Facebook

February 25th, 2020

How NOT to Market on FacebookI regularly receive friend requests on Facebook. Most of them I ignore. (And many I report for being spam.)

But if the person sending the request has a lot of friends in common with me—say a hundred or so—I’ll usually accept the request, because that person is typically also a professional speaker or trainer. (Many times I have met and formed a friendship with another speaker online and later met them in real life.)

So when I accepted a friend request from such a person a couple days after my birthday, I didn’t give it much thought. Until I received a Facebook message from her shortly thereafter:

Happy birthday Don.

How are you?

Trust that you had a great Christmas?

Because it was your special day I would like to send you a free sample of our Anti aging Age I Q night cream or our Prolistic lotion and Probiotic powder plus Vitamins for the winter.

Please let me know what’s your preference, also please send me your email and home address.

Have a fantastic day

This was immediately followed by a second message:

You are welcome. Please watch this video before you start using the products. I will check back with you on Sunday to see whst (sic) you like best.

Both messages were accompanied by links to product videos by the multi-level marketing company she represents.

Now, I’m not opposed to direct marketing companies. (In fact, I’ve done sales training for several.) And I’m not opposed to marketing on Facebook. (It’s a proven marketing strategy.) However, this is not the correct way to do either.

When your first communication to a new connection on Facebook—or LinkedIn or Instagram or any other platform—is a marketing missive, it sends the message that you don’t care about them as a person at all. You just wanted another prospect in your pipeline. That sours the relationship before it even has a chance to begin. For all intents and purposes, it’s spam.

Efforts like this not only won’t increase your sales, they can result in your account being blocked, reported, and even suspended or banned.

If you’re going to market on Facebook—or any other social media platform—learn to do it the right way. Read a book, take an online course, attend a seminar, hire a consultant. (A great place to start is with my friend, Andrea Vahl—one of the world’s leading Facebook marketing experts.)

And always hold yourself—as well as your employees, partners, and yes, independent representatives—to the highest ethical standards. Failure to do so will hurt your company’s reputation and sales.

Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever created. Just remember that like any other tool, it can be used correctly and incorrectly. And using any tool incorrectly can be dangerous. Don’t risk damaging your brand—learn the proper way to handle your tools before using them.

Eight Ways to Boost Your Confidence

February 18th, 2020

Eight Ways to Boost Your ConfidenceStudy after study has found that the #1 buying factor is confidence. More than anything else, people choose the brand, the product, and the salesperson they have the most confidence in.

Which is why it’s so critical for you to be confident when interacting with prospects: Because confidence is contagious. The more confident you are, the more confident they will be.

Want to boost your confidence? Here are eight ways.

1. Study your products
Know them inside and out. How they’re made, where they’re made, what they’re made from. Every feature, every benefit, every color, every option. Every size, shape, and quantity. Both they’re strengths and their weaknesses.

2. Study your company
Get familiar with every part of the operation. Know the history, the mission, the values. What’s your brand promise? What’s your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

3. Study your competitors
Know their products, services, differentiators, strengths, and weaknesses as well as they do.

4. Review testimonials
Not just the testimonials you have received personally, but all the testimonials your company, products, and services have received. Scope out Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and other review sites. Read, collect, and re-read all those positive reviews.

5. Review past successes
All too often we forget our own track record. So remind yourself how awesome you are. How have you helped other people in the past? What problems have you solved? What challenges have you overcome? What competitions have you won?

6. Make a list
Grab a sheet of paper or open a document on your computer, tablet, or phone. Then write down all the reasons you have to be confident. Your list might include your education, your attitude, your skills, your company, your aforementioned track record, your team, your personality, and/or your length, breadth, or depth of experience.

7. Ask for feedback from your boss
Whether your boss is a sales manager, a general manager, or an owner, ask them for feedback periodically. Specifically, you want to ask them for two kinds of feedback: positive and constructive. The positive feedback will help fuel your confidence. The constructive feedback with enable you to get even better.

8. Constantly hone your sales skills
Every time you learn or improve a sales-related skill, your confidence increases. So always be reading blog posts and books, listening to podcasts and audio programs, watching videos and webinars, and attending conferences and workshops. A major reason the best salespeople are so good at what they do, is that they know how good they are at what they do.

Whether it’s your first day in sales or you’ve got thirty years under your belt, everyone can use a confidence boost. Print out this list and use it to pump up your confidence on a regular basis. It will show in your face, your voice, your posture, and your sales.

19 Benefits of Asking Questions

January 28th, 2020

19 Benefits of Asking QuestionsIf you’re a regular reader of this blog (and if you’re not, you can be—just click one of the “Subscribe” links to the right, wink, wink, nudge, nudge), you know that I’m a big fan of asking questions. When I conduct sales training seminars, I typically give audiences 20 to 40 questions to ask their prospects. Because questions are extraordinarily powerful.

Asking questions can:

1. Help you understand wants and needs
2. Reveal hidden criteria
3. Uncover opportunities
4. Enable you to shorten your presentation
5. Demonstrate interest
6. Make you look smart
7. Make the prospect feel smart
8. Provide clarity
9. Eliminate uncertainty and doubt
10. Cause the prospect to consider other possibilities
11. Create opportunities for empathy and rapport
12. Build trust
13. Keep the prospect engaged
14. Spur them to think
15. Uncover fears and concerns
16. Confirm suspicions
17. Challenge assumptions
18. Help prioritize
19. Ensure the right purchase

And yet, too many salespeople, business owners, and professionals miss all these benefits because they don’t ask anywhere near enough questions. They’re in too much of a hurry to get to their presentation so they can awe their prospect by reciting all the incredible features and benefits of their stupendous product or service. Which the prospect typically doesn’t care about.

What does the prospect truly care about? Themselves.

Which is precisely why questions are so powerful.

So when you’re at a networking event, ask more questions. When you’re meeting with a new prospect, ask more questions. When you encounter an objection or an impasse, ask more questions. The more time you invest asking questions, the less time you will need to spend on every other step of the sales process.

By the way, the benefits of asking questions aren’t limited to salespeople working with prospects. They also apply to leaders interacting with people in their organizations, and to anyone else dealing with co-workers, friends, and family. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Become a big fan of questions yourself and reap the myriad benefits. The more questions you ask, the more success you’ll achieve.