How to Determine Your Ideal Prospect

October 15th, 2014

Finding Ideal ProspectsToo many businesses and salespeople waste enormous amounts of time, money and effort trying to sell to “everyone.” Savvy ones, though, focus their resources on their “ideal” prospects, resulting in easier, faster and bigger sales.

But how do you figure out who your ideal prospects are?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this 9½-minute segment, I share the secrets to identifying the prospects who are most likely to buy from you. Whether you’re in sales or marketing—or both—you’ll discover exactly what to do to maximize the return on your sales efforts.

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

How to Determine Your Ideal Prospect: Don Cooper on Breakthrough Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Radio (which I strongly recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

Seven Sales Lessons My Father Taught Me

October 9th, 2014

Sales Lessons from My FatherWithout question, the single biggest influence on my life has been my father. Through his words and actions, he taught me a lot about sales, business and life. On the occasion of his birthday, here are a few of the lessons that have shaped me.

1. Find opportunities and go after them
My father has always been entrepreneurial, dating back to when he was a kid. He would buy packs of gum at the store and sell individual pieces to his classmates in school for a nice profit. I followed in his footsteps, although selling candy bars instead of gum. My dad is a big believer that there are opportunities everywhere—you just have to find them and make the most of them.

2. You are responsible for your own success
Our family was never wealthy—and there were some lean years—but my father never blamed others or asked for handouts. And he wouldn’t let me get away with blaming anyone else for my mistakes or failures. He impressed upon me that everyone is ultimately responsible for their own success. No one is entitled to anything. It’s why I started selling door-to-door at the age of seven. If your sales aren’t where you’d like them to be, don’t blame your product, your boss or the market. Look in the mirror. And then do something about it.

3. Be generous
Please don’t get the idea from the previous paragraph that my dad is selfish or unsupportive. Quite the opposite is true. He’s generous with his time, his effort and his money. He’s generous toward his family, his friends and his customers. He understands that giving is more important than getting. And often our generosity comes back to us in ways we could never imagine.

4. Ask questions
Conversations with my father are always interesting. Not because of the things he says, but because of the questions he asks. He’s not looking to impress, he’s looking to learn. About prospects, about the economy, about people, about life. It forges stronger connections with the people he talks to and gets him valuable information. It’s why I stress the importance of asking questions in my sales training seminars.

5. Stay positive
My dad smiles a lot. And he always has a kind word or a compliment for everyone he meets. When he visits clients, you can actually see them perk up because of his presence. I’m not sure if my positive attitude was inherited or if I just unconsciously imitated him growing up, but either way, it has served me well. Because buyers prefer to do business with people who are positive.

6. Know your priorities
When my parents got divorced, my father lost his car, his house and his business. But he got full custody of me and my brother. We were what he cared about most. What’s most important to you? That’s what defines your success.

7. Do whatever it takes
After the divorce, my dad worked multiple jobs to support the three of us. He was willing to do whatever it took to make sure we had what we needed. And he has always maintained the same approach with his customers, often going above and beyond to take care of their needs. Are you willing to do whatever it takes?

You won’t find my father on the cover of Forbes or in any Who’s Who, but he’s a great man and a true success.

Happy Birthday, Dad. And thanks.

Five Things You Need to Love to Boost Your Sales

September 30th, 2014

Things You Must Love to Boost Your SalesYou might not think love is vital to your sales success, but it absolutely is! Specifically, there are five things you need to love if you want to increase your sales.

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this eight-minute segment, I share what these five items are and why it’s so important to love them all. Whether you’re a salesperson, business owner or CEO, you’ll gain powerful insights that will help you sell more. And you’ll love that!

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

Five Things You Need to Love to Boost Your Sales: Don Cooper on Breakthrough Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Radio (which I definitely recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

Nine Ways to Bore Your Audience to Tears

September 23rd, 2014

boring sales presentationsHate giving presentations—sales or otherwise? Want to relieve yourself of the burden of having to prepare and deliver them ever again?

Just be lousy!

After delivering a few terrible presentations, people will stop asking you to give them. And then you’re home free!

But how can you ensure that your presentation is as awful as it can be? Use these time-tested techniques that horrendous presenters have been using for years to put their audiences to sleep.

1. Talk about what they don’t care about
Everyone cares most about themselves, so when listening to a presentation, we’re most attentive when the speaker is talking about things that matter to us. So talk about anything and everything else! For a sales presentation, that means dwelling on the history of your company, your values and mission, all the features of your product or service (all of them), and anything else you can think of about you. For a speech, focus on issues that don’t affect your audience, avoid empathy, and use examples they can’t relate to.

2. Lose the enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is contagious, so if you’re enthusiastic, your audience will tend to be as well. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. If you sound like you don’t care and don’t want to be there, your audience will feel the same way.

3. Speak in a monotone
No matter how interesting your subject matter, it’s really hard to pay attention when the speaker speaks in a monotone. So don’t let any emotion come through in your voice and avoid changes in your rate, tone and volume.

4. Use lots of data
Numbers in and of themselves are boring. So put your audience to sleep by using as many as you can, preferably with no context. Put the “numb” in numbers!

5. Tell jokes
Amateur presenters believe telling jokes will keep audiences interested and entertained. The reality is, however, if you’ve heard the joke, odds are your audience members have too. Which means it’s not funny and instead, a waste of their time. In fact, opening your presentation with a joke is one of the fastest ways to lose your audience’s attention.

6. Use plenty of clichés
As with jokes, people tend to tune out when they hear clichés because they’ve heard those phrases a million times before. Great presenters avoid clichés like the plague, but if you want to suck, use them like they’re going out of style.

7. Avoid stories
When you tell stories, you risk capturing your audience’s attention. Because stories are inherently engaging. Neuroscientists have discovered that the human brain is actually hard-wired to follow stories to find out how they end. Replace any stories you have with statistics, data and technical jargon.

8. Don’t ask any questions
Asking questions gives audience members an opportunity to be involved. It forces them to think and to contribute. It turns a mind-numbing monologue into a stimulating dialogue. Along the same lines, don’t give your audience the chance to ask questions, if at all possible.

9. Drone on and on and on…
The only thing worse than a boring presentation is one that never seems to end. To maximize your atrociousness, maximize the amount of your audience’s time you waste. Ramble. Go off on tangents. Repeat yourself. Go to great lengths to avoid making a clear point. Eschew structure. Ignore your time constraints. The more you drone on, the more grateful they’ll be when you finally, mercifully stop.

Whether you’re presenting to prospects, peers or paid attendees, these tactics will guarantee you stink up the place so badly you won’t ever be asked to do it again. Sure you’ll lose sales, miss out on promotions, and never feel the exhilaration of a standing ovation. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to forever remain in your comfort zone. Isn’t it?

“That’s Too Expensive”—What It REALLY Means

September 10th, 2014

What Too Expensive Means for Your SalesOne of the most common objections salespeople, professionals and business owners encounter is the dreaded Price Objection. While the wording can vary from prospect to prospect, the gist is, “That’s too expensive.”

Fearing the loss of the sale, too many sellers respond by immediately dropping their price. While this can sometimes close the sale, it’s usually unnecessary, meaning that most salespeople are needlessly throwing away profits.

Because the statement “That’s too expensive” doesn’t mean “If you don’t cut your price I won’t buy this.” What it really means is any one of a number of things. Here are some of them:

• They’ve never bought this type of item before and have unrealistic expectations.

• You haven’t fully educated them about the value of what they’re getting.

• They’ve seen the same product somewhere else for less.

• It’s beyond their budget.

• They’re comparing it with another product or service they believe is comparable.

• They don’t understand the dangers of buying cheap.

• They were planning to buy from someone else all along and just needed a second bid.

• It’s more than they had intended to spend.

• They just want to see if you’ll drop your price.

• The factors that make your product more expensive aren’t of value to them.

• They’ve never spent that much before.

• They’re trying to start a bidding war between you and your competitors.

• You’re showing them a more expensive option than they need.

• They’re cheap.

The good news is that most of these issues are relatively easy to deal with. And most of the others (they’re cheap or they’re trying to start a bidding war) are situations you don’t want any part of.

The key is to ascertain which of the above scenarios is really occurring. So when confronted with a price objection, ask your prospect, “What do you mean by that?” And keep probing until you uncover the real issue. Dealing with that will enable you to close the sale and keep your profit margin, both of which are essential to long-term sales success.

Would You Rather Be Right or Successful?

September 3rd, 2014

Right or SuccessfulWe all want to be successful. And we all like to be right. The problem is, those two things are frequently in opposition.

Whether in sales, customer service, leadership, or our personal relationships, we are often faced with the uncomfortable choice of catering to our ego or catering to the issue at hand.

And it astounds me how many people will choose their ego every time, despite the fact it damages relationships, exacerbates problems and prevents them from succeeding.

That’s the blinding power of excessive ego, which stems from insecurity. And it’s one of the hallmarks of people who seem to constantly struggle without ever reaching their goals.

If you need to be right all the time, customers will stop buying from you, employees will find other jobs, and friends and family will avoid you.

With few exceptions, the most successful people in every field are the ones who have enough self-confidence to allow others to be right. They understand that being wrong in the moment doesn’t mean they’re failures, and that asking for other people’s advice, help and forgiveness is crucial for achieving long-term success.

If you’re wrong, acknowledge it. People will respect you more. If you need assistance, ask for it. Most people are happy to help because it makes them feel important and valued.

With that in mind, here are nine powerful phrases to help you achieve more sales, business and personal success:

1. You’re right.
2. I was wrong
3. That’s a good idea.
4. What do you think?
5. I would love your feedback.
6. Let’s try that.
7. I could use your help.
8. Thank you.
9. I’m sorry.

Use these phrases liberally. They will strengthen your relationships, generate more ideas and create more success in your life.

And that’s what really matters.

Right?

Seven Things You Should NEVER Do at Your Trade Show Booth

August 27th, 2014

Things You Should NEVER Do at Your Trade Show BoothA trade show is a tremendous opportunity to increase your exposure, acquire new leads and even close sales. But when I see the behavior of too many of the people staffing trade show booths, I wonder why the companies bother exhibiting at all.

At show after show after show, I see the same behaviors over and over again. Behaviors that cost sales. Here are seven things you and your salespeople should never do at your booth:

1. Talk on your phone
2. Work or play games on your phone, tablet or laptop
3. Eat
4. Look bored
5. Talk with each other in the booth
6. Read
7. Leave it unattended

All of these things make visitors feel unwelcome and unimportant. If you can’t be bothered to treat me with enthusiasm and respect at a trade show, why should I think you’d treat me any better as a customer?

In fact, all of these behaviors are worse than not exhibiting in the first place, because if I see any of them, I now have a negative view of your company. Which means I’m less likely to do business with you.

How can you prevent these behaviors?

1. Staff appropriately
Schedule enough people to attend the show so that everyone has ample time for breaks. And select people who are enthusiastic about going.

2. Train your staff
A trade show is a unique sales environment. Bring in an outside expert to conduct a training seminar for your people so they can make the most of it.

3. Incentivize them
Behaviors that are rewarded get repeated. So what do you want them to do? Create incentives to encourage those behaviors.

A trade show is a huge investment of time, effort and money. If you want to achieve more sales from that investment, make sure you’re staffing, training and incentivizing effectively. That way your people can sell to the visitors that were ignored at all the other booths.

The Four Things Buyers Want Most

August 20th, 2014

Four Things Buyers Want MostEveryone knows that buyers want the best products and the best service at the best prices. But that’s not all they want. And in fact, those aren’t even the most important things they want. What are the most important things buyers want?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this nine-minute segment, I share what these four items are and why they matter so much. When you provide these four things to your prospects and customers, you’ll gain a huge edge over your competitors.

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

The Four Things Buyers Want Most: Don Cooper on Breakthrough Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Radio (which I absolutely recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

Change Your Perspective, Change Your Sales

August 13th, 2014

Sales Perspectives 1

 

Suppose you’re checking into a hotel. You have a choice. You could have a room with the above view or….

you could have a room with this view:

Sales Perspectives 2

 

Which would you choose?

Odds are, you’d choose the room with the first view.

Of course you would. From the first room you can see sun, sky, water, trees, boats! From the second room you’re stuck looking at the adjacent building and some concrete rooftops. Bleah.

Here’s the thing, though:

They’re the same room.

See?

Sales Perspectives 3

 

This is an actual room I was staying in at a recent conference in San Diego. While I could have chosen to focus on the view to the right, I chose instead to focus on the view to the left. That’s the view I was grateful for each morning when I woke up.

How we choose to see things tremendously affects our mood, our energy, our thinking and our actions. Our perspective impacts our results.

Do you see challenges or opportunities? Are you trying to sell stuff or are you trying to help people? Are you bitter about what you don’t have or grateful for what you do have? Is your product really expensive or is it really good, with a price that’s commensurate?

Never in life are situations 100% perfect. The question is, are you choosing to focus on what’s wrong or on what’s right? Your weaknesses or your strengths? The fact that you failed or the fact that you can still succeed?

You get to choose how you see everything in your business and personal life. If you don’t like what you see now, perhaps you need to start looking at things differently. Change your perspective, and you’ll change your sales, your relationships and your life.

The Worst Sales Letter EVER

August 6th, 2014

Worst Sales LetterRecently my e-mail in-box was graced with the worst sales letter I’ve ever received:

Subject: Referral please – company contact

Dear Don:

I am hoping you would direct me to the right people within your organization to speak with. I have recently been assigned your organization as one of my named accounts. Thus, it is important for me to be able to speak with those who are responsible for a) lead-generation, b) demand-creation, c) sales support and d ) marketing programs. I would sincerely appreciate it if you would forward my letter to them or perhaps write me and give me the proper names.

I was recently hired and am very excited about my new job. I want to be able to dazzle my management with my ability to proactively get in touch with the right people. Thus, I have been doing a great deal of research on the web, going through Linked In, Google +, Xing and other similiar sites.

Over the past twenty years my company has worked with Intel, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Google, Apple, Yahoo and hundreds of other Tier-1 firms. We provide a wide variety of services surrounding sales and marketing. If you have the time please give me a call to discuss same at 512.377.XXXX.

How bad is this letter? Let me count the ways:

1. There are 18 first-person references (I, me, my) and only five second-person references (you, your). That’s nearly a 4-1 ratio, and the opposite of what it should be. Because a good sales letter focuses on the prospect’s wants, needs, goals and concerns.

2. There’s no mention of benefits or results. Why should I be interested?

3. It dwells on what he wants and what’s important to him. I don’t care what he wants! I don’t even know him!

4. He’s asking me to do his job for him. Like I have time for that.

5. He states, “I was recently hired…” Which means he probably doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing and can’t answer my questions. There goes his credibility down the toilet.

6. He’s lying. He hasn’t done any research on me. If he had, he would know I’m the person to talk to. He would also know something about me, which he would mention in the letter. Since he’s lying, clearly he—and his company—cannot be trusted.

7. It’s spam. Ironically, what gives it away is the disclaimer at the end: “If you’ve received this letter in error, simply respond to the letter and put remove in the subject or click on the following link…”

8. The word “similar” is spelled wrong.

A great sales letter gets the reader’s attention, engages them with good questions, provides enough information to whet their appetite for more and closes with a simple yet powerful call to action. A terrible sales letter wastes everyone’s time and makes the company look bad. Which do your sales letters more closely resemble?

Four Questions That Will Boost Your Sales

July 29th, 2014

4 Questions that will boost your salesWhat’s the biggest key to increasing your sales? Asking the right questions. Although not necessarily the questions you think!

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this seven-minute segment, I share four powerful questions that you need to be asking. Whether you’re a salesperson, sales manager, business owner or CEO, these questions will enable you to dramatically boost your sales.

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

Four Questions That Will Boost Your Sales: Don Cooper on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (which I highly recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

How Do Prospects (And Others) See You?

July 22nd, 2014

When we look in a mirror, we see ourselves one way. But others see us differently. Which is why so many of us think we photograph terribly. We don’t normally see ourselves the way others see us.

Yet understanding how prospects, bosses, employees and others see us is vital for achieving success in sales, business and other areas of our lives. As Sally Hogshead writes in her new book, How the World Sees You:

“Just because you perceive yourself a certain way doesn’t mean that your team or customers necessarily see you the same way (both positively and negatively). In a connected workplace, your success relies on understanding the impressions you create. It matters less how you see the world. It matters more how the world sees you. If you fail to understand what your audience truly values, then you can’t communicate yourself in a way that makes people want to listen and remember.”

That’s the goal of this tremendous book: to help you determine what others value about you, so you can leverage that uniqueness:

“People can outdo your strengths. But nobody can outdo who you are. Your personality is the only aspect of your work that nobody can copy. People can copy your product, your pricing, your actions, your recipe or program or formula. But they can never replicate who you are. Who you are is the greatest differentiator you’ve ever had.”

So who are you, in the eyes of others?

Drawing on her decade of research with 250,000 people, Hogshead delineates seven communication styles, which she terms “Advantages”: Power, Passion, Mystique, Prestige, Alert, Innovation and Trust.

Each of us has a primary and secondary Advantage. Combine those two and you discover your personality “Archetype.”

How the World Sees You describes each Advantage and Archetype in detail. But you don’t have to spend hours reading through every single description to try to figure out which ones fit you. The book includes a code you can use to take a free online assessment that removes all the guesswork. You get a custom, 16-page report that spells out:

• Your top two Advantages
• Which Archetype you are
• How the world sees that Archetype
• The top five words that describe your strengths
• The other Archetypes you need on your team to maximize your success
• A one-minute coaching tip for your Archetype
• And a sample “Anthem” (explained in detail elsewhere in the book)

For example, my primary Advantage is Prestige and my secondary Advantage is Innovation, which means my Archetype is the “Avant-Garde.” Here’s how the world sees me:

“Your mind works quickly to develop unconventional solutions. You are a prolific idea generator. You bring fresh interpretations of the same old thing. You tweak the game. You change the rules. You bring new ideas and execute them to a high standard.”

My top five adjectives are:
1. Original
2. Enterprising
3. Forward-thinking
4. Dashing
5. Commendable

The sample anthem suggested to me is “Forward-thinking creativity.”

As you can see at the top of this page, the tagline I created for myself several years ago is “Original thinking for boosting your sales.” So I’d say this assessment is dead-on.

What’s the value in this knowledge? As Hogshead points out:

“When you clearly understand your differences, you can escape the gloomy, gray world of the lowest common denominator and start to shine. And outshine the competition. The more you can amplify your innate Advantages, the less likely you are to be a commodity, and the more likely you are to be heard and remembered.”

That’s a huge key to boosting your sales and your overall success.

How the World Sees You is a must-read for salespeople, mangers, CEO’s, heck, just about anybody in business. Think of it as another mirror—one that can give you a more detailed and accurate view of who you are and the value you have to offer to the world.

14 Sales Tips from NSA ‘14

July 9th, 2014

As a professional speaker and sales trainer, I am—as you might expect—a member of the National Speakers Association. Which means that last week I was in San Diego for the 2014 NSA Annual Convention.

More than a 1400 of the world’s best professional speakers gathered for four days to learn from each other. The result was a tremendous outpouring of business ideas and insights.

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

1. “If you want to sell fire extinguishers, first you have to show the fire.”—David Newman (@dnewman)
People don’t buy products and services. They buy solutions to problems and tools to help them achieve their goals. What’s the problem your product solves? Or what’s the goal your service helps people achieve?

2. “When people meet you, they’re wondering ‘Do I like them? Do I trust them?’”—Christine Cashen (@christinecashen)
Before people will buy from you, they need to feel comfortable with you. That means building rapport. Smile, shake their hand, treat them with respect, ask questions, and—most importantly—listen to the answers.

3. “Building interactivity into your presentation makes it more memorable.”—Judson Laipply (@JudsonLaipply)
The more your sales presentation resembles a lecture, the more boring it is and the more quickly it’s forgotten. Make your presentation interactive by engaging your prospect in conversation and asking them questions. Make it tactile by allowing your prospect to touch your product or materials. Make it an experience by providing food and drink to incorporate smell and taste.

4. “Forget your limiting beliefs.”—Jim Kwik (@jimkwik)
We all are hampered by limiting beliefs, whether they’re about our prospects (“They can’t afford this.” “They aren’t serious buyers.”), our products (“This is too expensive.” “Nobody will like this color.”), or ourselves (“I can’t close.” “I’ll never win a sales contest.”) The key is to recognize them when they run through our head and realize what they really are: negative beliefs that have no basis in reality. Then we can move past them.

5. “It’s not enough to be different. You have to be different in a way that creates, demonstrates & delivers value.”—Toni Newman (@toni_newman)
Your product or service may be different from your competition. It may even be better than your competition. But what does that difference mean for your buyer? How does it benefit them?

6. “Make your message as simple as possible. The more elements there are, the harder your message is to comprehend.”—Bill Bachrach (@billbachrach)
Too many salespeople load their presentations up with every piece of information possible about their product or service. This results in bloated, boring presentations that cause prospects to tune out. Aim for shorter, more focused presentations. What are the key points? What’s most important to communicate?

7. “Write music you can’t play.”—Mike Rayburn (@mikerayburn)
If you want to grow, personally and professionally, you need to create stretch goals. Big goals. Outrageous goals. Goals that both scare and inspire you. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you challenge yourself.

8. “There’s no point sending information until you know what the prospect’s budget is.”—Katrina Smith (@KeynoteTalent)
I’m constantly amazed how few salespeople ask prospects what their budget is. If you don’t know this critical piece of information, you’re wasting your time.

9. “Scarcity and exclusivity are powerful psychological motivators.”—Jay Baer (@jaybaer)
People fear missing out, so if your product or service is in short supply, prospects feel more incentive to act now. Also, scarcity and exclusivity imply high demand, which bolsters buyer confidence.

10. “Great today doesn’t mean you’ll be great tomorrow.”—Scott McKain (@scottmckain)
Markets change. Technologies change. Competitors change. If you aren’t constantly changing, adapting and improving, you won’t continue to be successful.

11. “Just because things could be worse doesn’t mean you don’t deserve better.”—Kat Cole (@KatColeATL)
There’s a fine line between being grateful for what you have and settling for less than you deserve. Don’t get trapped into excusing those things, circumstances and people that aren’t good enough. That goes for clients, employees, bosses and everything else in your business and personal life.

12. “There are more than 300 million executives around the globe with LinkedIn profiles and a new profile is added every second of every day.”—Sam Richter (@SamRichter)
If you sell B2B, LinkedIn is a powerful source of sales intelligence. It’s also a fantastic resource for getting introductions to the people you want to meet.

13. “People will not be moved unless your words touch something inside them.”—Nancy Duarte (@nancyduarte)
All buying is emotional. All. Even B2B and B2G. You may have facts and logic on your side, but if you want to move your prospect to action, you need to tap into their emotions.

14. “How much time are you investing each day getting better at your craft?”—Eric Chester (@eric_chester)
Whether you’re a salesperson, a professional, a manager or an executive, you need to be constantly improving your skills and adding new ones. How much time are you allocating to do that?

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

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

To Boost Your Sales, Don’t Sit Down

June 24th, 2014

Years ago when I dabbled in improv, we had a few rules that we tried to follow when we performed. One of them was “Never sit down.”

Improv almost requires performers to be in constant motion. When you’re standing, you have more physical options than when you’re sitting. While sitting was easy and comfortable, it limited what we could do. So, as much as possible, we avoided sitting down to prevent ourselves from becoming “trapped.”

The same thing can happen to salespeople, professionals, managers, even CEO’s. Doing what’s easy and comfortable can prevent us from moving in new directions. Routines can easily become ruts.

That can cause us to miss out on new opportunities and increased sales.

The solution? Keep moving.

Avoid the temptation to become complacent. Actively look for new ideas, approaches, markets, uses for your product, partnerships, ways to wow your customers, charitable endeavors, and other opportunities. Experiment, adjust, adapt, discard, improve. Just keep moving.

Because in business, if you sit still, someone’s going to outperform you.

Failure IS an Option

June 16th, 2014

It’s an iconic moment in the movie Apollo 13: The flight team at Mission Control is trying to figure out how to get the ill-fated astronauts back to Earth and Flight Director Gene Kranz states flatly, “Failure is not an option!”

It’s a stirring scene, and the line has become a staple of managers, business gurus and motivational speakers.

There are only a couple of minor problems with the famous line:

1. Kranz never actually said it.

2. Failure is always an option.

It may not be a desirable option, certainly not the preferred option, but it’s always an option. And to deny that reality is simply ludicrous.

Almost everything we ever try—whether in sales, leadership, relationships or any other aspect of our business and personal lives—carries the risk of failure.

And that’s not something to be afraid of. Failure teaches us valuable lessons. Failure can give us great ideas. The Apollo 13 mission was itself a failure, yet it resulted in tremendous improvements in America’s space program.

When you tell yourself or others “failure is not an option,” you’re saying failure is unacceptable. Which by extension means experimentation, innovation and change is unacceptable. That belief will stifle growth and success like nothing else.

So if you want to experience better results from your sales team, your business or yourself, embrace the idea that failure is an option. And when you or others fail, celebrate the effort, the courage and the lessons learned.

That will lead you to further success.

17 Reasons People Will Say Yes

June 5th, 2014

Too many of us are afraid to ask for the things we want. Whether it’s asking for the appointment, asking for the sale, asking for referrals, or anything else we might want in our business or personal lives, too often we hold ourselves back.

Why?

There are a myriad of reasons, including:

• Fear of rejection
• Fear of being inappropriate
• Dislike of feeling indebted to someone else
• Guilt
• Feelings of unworthiness
• Not wanting to appear pushy
• Not wanting to be perceived as needy or helpless

But asking for what you want is an essential ingredient for your success, not just in sales, but in every area of your life. If you don’t ask for things, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to achieve your goals.

And the reality is that lots of people are perfectly willing to agree to our requests. Here are 17 reasons why someone might say yes to you:

1. They like you
2. They trust you
3. They want what you’re selling
4. They want to be polite
5. They want to be helpful
6. They want to avoid conflict
7. They like trying new things
8. They don’t want to disappoint you
9. They don’t want to lose your business, trust or respect
10. They see an upside for themselves
11. There’s no good reason to say no
12. Obligation
13. Guilt
14. Appreciation
15. Desperation
16. Curiosity
17. Fear of missing out

Note that any given person might actually have several of the above reasons to say yes. But if you don’t ask, you don’t give them the opportunity.

So make it a habit to ask for things. Try asking for everything you want for a whole day. Then try it for a week. See what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose but your own fears. And literally everything to gain.

What other reasons have you found why people will say yes to you? Share them in the comments below!

Everybody Has Competition

May 27th, 2014

I often hear salespeople brag, “We don’t really have any competition.” They believe their product or service is so superior to everyone else’s that they’re truly in a category of one.

This is a dangerous mindset, because it’s patently false. No matter what you sell, you have competitors. And ignoring that reality will cost you sales.

Your competition includes:
• Products and services people perceive to be similar to yours.
• Alternative ways your prospect could achieve their goal.
Anything else your prospect could spend their limited budget on.
The option of doing nothing.

Online dating services compete not just with each other, but also with speed dating services and professional matchmakers. They in turn compete with bars and nightclubs. Who compete with hundreds of other recreational activities a person can engage in. And all of them compete with staying home alone watching a movie on the couch.

If you own a pizza place, your competition isn’t merely every other pizza joint in town, but every other restaurant in town, plus the option of cooking at home, plus the option of skipping a meal altogether.

What does this mean for you?

It means if you want to boost your sales, you need to recognize that buyers aren’t going to come flocking to you just because you happen to think you have a “unique” product or service.

You need to make the case for why your prospect should want or need what you’re selling in the first place. And then you have to persuade them that your product or service is better for them than any other option they could buy instead.

In other words, you have to market and you have to sell. Because every day, that’s what your competition is doing.

What’s Your Value?

May 14th, 2014

Do you know what the real value of your product or service is? Can you articulate your value to a prospect so they understand it? Have you ever wondered why some people immediately appreciate your value while others just don’t seem to get it?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this nine-minute segment, I discuss the reason so many salespeople and professionals undervalue what they sell. You’ll discover how to determine your real value and how to effectively communicate it to your prospective buyers.

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

What’s Your Value? Don Cooper on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (which I strongly recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

 

How to Make Smarter Decisions

May 7th, 2014

Whether you’re a salesperson, a small business owner, or a CEO, you have to make decisions every day. Some are small and some are big, but you’d certainly like as many of them as possible to be good ones.

Yet for a skill we all have to use multiple times a day, we’ve never really been taught how to do it. In his new book, Figure It Out: Making Smart Decisions in a Dumbed-Down World, Robert Wendover aims to rectify this oversight.

Wendover argues that decisions have become harder to make—due to radical increases in choice and information—while the pressure to make the “right” decision—quickly—has grown dramatically. If you’re in sales or management, I’m sure you can attest to both.

To become a better decision-maker, Wendover asserts you need three things:

1. An understanding of the big picture—the context within which you’re making decisions
2. A framework for decision-making—a simple, step-by-step process
3. To perform a “self-instill”—adopting the habits that lead to consistently good decisions

Wendover delves into each of these three areas in depth, illustrating his points with real-world stories. Along the way he discusses:

• Why you need to get to neutral and how to do it
• The critical role confidence plays
• Why multi-tasking leads to poor decisions
• The Five Cs for sound decision-making
• And much more.

One element in the book, however, is particularly valuable for anyone in sales. In Chapter 9 (“Clarify the Problem”), Wendover shares 22 questions to ask yourself as you’re analyzing a problem. The beauty is, most of these questions are perfect for posing to your prospects! The book is worth buying for this one chapter alone!

Figure It Out is easy to read, with short chapters and a conversational style. In addition, each chapter contains a QR code that links to bonus video content that dives even deeper into the subject at hand. Figure It Out will not only help you make smarter decisions, it will enable you to help your buyers make smarter decisions as well.

A Pricing Reality Check

April 29th, 2014

Pricing unquestionably affects sales. But what exactly is the “right” price?

Are you charging enough? Too much?

Is it time to raise your prices? Are you constantly being pressured for discounts?

If you struggle with any of these issues, check out my appearance on the Reality Check Podcast with Craig Price. In this 30-minute interview, Craig and I discuss the challenges so many professionals and business owners face when it comes to pricing their products and services.

To download the episode, click here.

While you’re at the Reality Check Podcast site, be sure to download some of Craig’s other fantastic interviews with a wide variety of business experts. And for Craig’s contrarian insights on business and personal success, follow him on Twitter.