Nine Reasons Salespeople Discount When They Shouldn’t

June 30th, 2015

Reasons Salespeople DiscountOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from sales directors, VPs, and CEOs is that their sales team—whether it’s internal or their distribution channel—discounts too much and too often.

While it’s maddening, it’s also excruciatingly common. Here’s what drives that behavior:

1. Fear of losing the sale
Every salesperson fears losing the sale. So when a prospect asks for a discount, the salesperson often thinks the sale hinges on whether or not they give one. Salespeople rationalize to themselves that a small commission is better than no commission at all.

2. Fear of confrontation
Many salespeople—and even more professionals and business owners—hate confrontation. And because they see negotiating at confrontational, they acquiesce to discount requests in order to avoid it.

3. “Everybody does it.”
In many industries, discounting is the perceived norm. When salespeople believe they have to discount because everyone else does, discounting simply becomes part of the expected process, both for the buyer and the seller.

4. Don’t understand why they shouldn’t
Too many salespeople don’t understand the damage that discounting can do to a company’s profitability. And too many professionals and small business owners—most of my coaching clients among them—don’t even know what their profit margin is. As a result, they discount because the see a short-term benefit—a quick sale—rather than a long-term problem.

5. Don’t appreciate the product’s—or the company’s—true value
Value is subjective. We all value the same products and services differently based on our likes, dislikes, priorities, fears, biases, experiences, tastes, and more. So sellers often don’t see the value of what they’re selling the same way buyers do. This is especially true in B2B sales, where salespeople are often selling things—chemicals, machinery, software, advertising, business services, etc.—that they would never buy personally. When salespeople don’t fully appreciate their product’s, service’s, or company’s value, they cave to discount requests due to ignorance or even guilt.

6. Unable to articulate the value
Even when the salesperson does appreciate the value of what they’re selling, too often they are unable to communicate that value to their prospect. That results in pressure to discount.

7. It’s the easiest thing to do
Articulating value, justifying price, and negotiating require time, knowledge, and skill. By contrast, discounting is fast and easy.

8. Their managers encourage them to
Pressure to discount doesn’t just come from buyers. All too often, sales managers—either tacitly or overtly—pressure their salespeople to discount. Sometimes through their own example!

9. No one has taught them any other way
While some salespeople discount just because it’s the easy way out, many do it because they don’t know any other way of handling discount requests. Nobody has ever trained them how to deal with buyers pressuring them for discounts. (When I conduct training seminars, it’s always one of the biggest frustrations attendees have.) In the absence of training, people do the only thing they know how to do—say yes to a discount.

The good news is that all these issues can be resolved through effective training. Buy a book for everyone on your sales team, invest in some audio or video training programs for them, or bring a speaker in to your company to speak to them.

Buyers will never stop asking for discounts, for the simple reason that it’s in their best interest to. Salespeople need good reasons to be able to say no.

19 Ways to Be of Value to Your Buyers

June 16th, 2015

Ways to Be of Value to Your Buyers in SalesValue is crucial to sales success, and not just in the obvious way. Sure you need a strong value proposition to justify your price and distinguish you from the competition. But it’s also important to deliver value both before and after the sale.

Because delivering value to your buyer builds rapport, improves confidence, creates appreciation, and earns trust. All of which help you make the first sale as well as future ones.

So whether you’re trying to land a new client or looking to strengthen your customer loyalty, here are 19 ways you can be of value to your prospects and customers:

1. Educate them about your industry
2. Tell them what not to buy
3. Send articles, e-books, podcasts, and videos that relate to their needs, issues and interests
4. Provide a buyer’s guide
5. Invite them to events
6. Promote them
7. Send gifts
8. Feed them
9. Give them sneak peeks or free samples
10. Provide a free consultation, inspection, evaluation, or audit
11. Make them laugh
12. Give them referrals
13. Show them how to save money
14. Show them how to make more money
15. Alert them to risks they weren’t aware of
16. Support their favorite charity
17. Educate their distribution channel
18. Upgrade them
19. Connect them with others who can help them

You don’t need to employ all of these tactics of course, but the more of them you use, the stronger your relationship with your buyers will be. So determine which items on this list are appropriate for your company and your customers, and create a plan for implementing them. You’ll achieve more sales, more loyalty and more profits.

Four People You Need to Trust to Boost Your Sales

June 4th, 2015

Four People You Need to Trust to Boost SalesTrust is vital in business. And if you want to boost your sales, there are four specific people you need to trust. Who are they? And why is it so crucial?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this 9½ -minute segment, I discuss who these people are and why it’s so vital to trust them. I also reveal which of these four people we have the hardest time trusting.

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 People You Need to Trust 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 highly recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

Why You Can’t Motivate Anyone (And 16 Things You Can Do Instead)

May 26th, 2015

Why You Can't Motivate Anyone In Sales© Alexskopje | Dreamstime.com

 I am not a motivational speaker.

While I am occasionally described as one—and I do speak at conferences, annual meetings and other events—the fact is that I’m not. For the simple reason that I can’t “motivate” anyone. And neither can you.

Whether you’re talking about a prospect, a member of your sales team, a volunteer, or anyone else in your business or personal life, you can’t motivate them to do what you’d like them to do.

Why?

Because motivation is internal. It’s personal. People decide what to do—along with when and how to do them—based on their own reasons, beliefs, and attitudes. You might have a dozen good reasons why you think someone should take a certain action, but they don’t because of their own reason. Which may be stupid, pointless or completely irrational. But it doesn’t matter, because that reason is theirs.

The good news is that you can tap into those personal reasons, beliefs, and attitudes to influence people. And there are lots of ways to do that.

So while you can’t motivate, you can:

1. Inspire
2. Encourage
3. Excite
4. Pressure
5. Cajole
6. Educate
7. Threaten
8. Incentivize
9. Guilt
10. Beg
11. Embarrass
12. Scare
13. Persuade
14. Shame
15. Manipulate
16. Trick

Which of these approaches you take will obviously depend on the situation and your relationship to the person you’re hoping to influence. If you’re trying to get a prospect to make a decision, you may want to inspire or excite them. If you’re after better performance from an employee, you might need to incentivize or threaten them. And if you’re dealing with someone who’s unethical, dangerous or mentally unstable, manipulation or trickery may actually be your best bet.

Whatever approach you use, keep in mind that in order for it to be successful, it has to connect to something the person cares about. So learn what’s important to them, what excites them, what scares them. Discover what they want more of and less of in their lives. Teach them what they don’t know and help them see the opportunities and dangers they weren’t aware of.

When we talk about “motivating” others, what we really mean is “influencing” them. The difference is subtle, yet important. You can’t motivate anyone but yourself. However you can potentially influence everyone you interact with. Learn about the people around you, develop your influence skills and you’ll see more sales, higher productivity and more success.

Twelve Powerful Ways to Open Your Next Presentation

May 19th, 2015

Ways for a Speaker to Open a Sales Presentation© Andresr | Dreamstime.comSuccessful Business Presentation Photo

In my last post, I cautioned you against using six terrible ways to open a presentation. Many of you kindly messaged me through various media and asked, “Okay Mr. Smarty-pants, big-shot, sales expert—how should we open our presentations?”

A fair question if ever there was one.

Because the first few seconds are critical to hooking your audience’s attention and establishing your credibility, opening your presentation strongly can mean the difference between failure and success. Whether you’re crafting a sales presentation for a big prospect or you’re preparing to be the keynote speaker at an industry conference, employ one of these twelve tactics to start your presentation off on the right foot.

1. Share a powerful quote
A good quotation can be funny, enlightening, or inspiring. Some can even do all three at once. The trick is using a quote that hasn’t been repeated to death. For that reason, avoid commonly shared sayings like Einstein’s “imagination” quote or Aristotle’s “excellence is a habit” quote. There are plenty of quote resources online. Invest some time to find a particularly good one.

2. Cite a startling statistic
Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated. 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart. In 2012, there were 12.6 million victims of identity theft. More people own a cell phone than a toothbrush. 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school. Every second, more than an hour of video is added to YouTube. Every industry has statistics that will surprise—and thus engage—an audience. What are some of yours?

3. Tell a relevant story
Stories are inherently engaging. Scientists have proven that our brains are hard-wired for listening to stories. So if you’re delivering a sales presentation, tell a story about one of your other customers and how your product or service impacted them. If you’re a speaker at a convention, tell an original story—something that happened to you or that you witnessed. Don’t tell “public domain” stories (Cortez burning his ships, the “starfish” story, etc.) and never steal another speaker’s story. Few things will damage your credibility faster or more permanently.

4. Make a bold, contrarian—even controversial—statement
I open one of my seminars by stating, “Selling more of what you sell has nothing to do with what you sell.” By challenging the orthodoxy that the merits of the product or service are all-important, I get the audience’s attention.

5. Show a stunning visual
Due to inflation, a picture is now only worth 763 words, but that’s still a lot. What visuals would grab your audience’s attention? Consider a concept drawing, before and after pictures, or an historical photo.

6. Ask a question that makes the audience think
My good friend—and fellow speaker—Mary Kelly often asks her audiences of executives, “Who are you grooming to lead your company in 20 years?” She gets blank stares as answers, followed by excuses that they’re focused on the here and now. “And that is the problem,” she replies, having completely hooked them.

7. Show a video
Videos can be very effective as long as they are short, emotional, and relevant. One is plenty. You don’t want to come across as the host of a clips show. And be sure that you have permission to use it. Just because it’s on YouTube doesn’t mean it’s fair game.

8. Discuss information about the audience
Your audience doesn’t care about you, your company, or your product or service. They care about themselves. So opening by mentioning issues, facts, concerns and opportunities that directly relate to them is a sure-fire way to get them to listen.

9. Craft an analogy
Metaphor and similes are terrific tools for making complex or unfamiliar concepts understandable and relevant. Ask yourself, what is this situation like?

10. Relate a statement made to you by an audience member
Talking with your audience before you speak is a great way to uncover stories, issues, factoids, humor, fears and more. And when you open with something an audience member told you, you’re not only guaranteeing relevancy, you’re demonstrating that you’re attentive and a good listener.

11. Ask them to envision a scenario
Asking your audience to visualize a scene is a great way to get them emotionally involved immediately. And this tactic works equally well with both positive and negative scenarios. “Imagine a world in which everyone has access to clean water.” “What if you got a call tomorrow telling you that you just suffered a massive data breach?” The words “imagine” and “what if” are powerful for getting your audience to envision what you want them to.

12. Use a prop
I once walked on stage with a feather duster in my hand. As I held it up, I described a similar feather duster from my youth. When the object’s significance became clear, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. What props could help you make your point?

There you have it—twelve ways to begin your presentation with panache and impact. Choose an approach that is appropriate for the both the audience and your personal style. Experiment with different options to see which ones work best. Practice and hone your openings to maximize their impact. Your results will be more engaged audiences, more invitations to speak, and of course, more sales.

Six Ways NOT to Open a Presentation

May 12th, 2015

Ways Not to Open Sales PresentationsWhether you’re delivering a sales presentation to a prospect, an internal briefing within your company, or the keynote speech at a conference, the first words out of your mouth have the power to make or break your effort. The way you open your presentation impacts your credibility and tells your audience whether or not they should listen to you.

Too many salespeople and speakers lose their audience immediately by opening their presentations poorly. To avoid their fate, don’t open with any of these six things:

1. A Joke
Newbie presenters are often counseled to open with a joke, on the theory that it will capture the audience’s attention, get them laughing, and start things off on a positive note. 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.

2. Your Company History
Your company has a long and glorious history. And if you tell your audience all about it, they’ll be impressed and your credibility will go through the roof. The reality is, nobody cares about your company’s history except the people it employs. I once watched a CEO stand up and walk out of a sales presentation because the salespeople were detailing their company’s history and the CEO decided his time was too valuable for that. Needless to say, the sales opportunity left with him.

3. Apologizing
Starting your presentation by apologizing for the weather, the room setup, a schedule delay, or the simple fact that there’s a meeting at all, undermines your credibility and signals weakness to your audience.

4. A Stupid Question
Despite what your parents and teachers told you, there is such a thing as a stupid question. Queries like “Who here would like to earn more and work less?” or “How many of you want to double your sales immediately?” are so obvious they insult the audience’s intelligence. And when an audience feels insulted, they tune out the speaker.

5. Telling Them What Else They’d Rather Be Doing
Opening with comments like, “I know you’d all rather be outside on a beautiful day like this…” or “I recognize that you have a lot of pressing work on your desk…” implies that what you’re about to say isn’t very important, which tacitly gives your audience permission to stop paying attention.

6. Talking About Yourself
Many speakers start their presentation by telling the audience their personal history, their accomplishments, their awards and so on, believing that recounting their success builds their credibility. But talking about yourself can be even worse than talking about your company, because not only does nobody care about you, but it can come across as bragging, making you seem arrogant. That’s a sure-fire way to lose your audience quickly.

With today’s audiences ready to whip out their phones the moment you lose them, you can’t afford to sabotage yourself with your first few words. Avoid these six mistakes when crafting the opening to your presentation and you’ll at least have a fighting chance.

What other terrible ways of opening a presentation have you witnessed? Share them in the comments below!

Photo © Andreypopov | Dreamstime.com – Young Businessman Discussing Work

When and How to Say “No” to a Customer

May 6th, 2015

Sales Speaker Discusses When and How to Say No to a CustomerIf you’re in sales or customer service, you’ve been taught that “the customer is always right.” But that’s not true. Sometimes we have to say “no” to a prospect or customer. But when exactly? And how?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this 8-minute segment, I discuss why it can be crucial to say “no” sometimes. You’ll discover how to know when those situations occur and how to turn down a customer request without damaging your relationship with them. You’ll also hear about one of the biggest mistakes I made as a speaker early in my career.

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…”

When and How to Say “No” to a Customer: 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.

© Aydindurdu | Dreamstime.comBalancing Yes And No Photo

Do Enough People Dislike You?

April 29th, 2015

dislike for more sales
© Meikesen | Dreamstime.comDislike Photo

One thing that people and brands have in common is that we want to be liked. We really like to be liked. So we try to be universally liked. And that’s a huge mistake.

Because being liked isn’t good enough. If you want massive sales success, you need to be loved.

Which means you need to be different, superior, unique. And that opens you up to criticism, animosity, even hatred.

Which is fine!

Any successful person or brand has detractors. Think of Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Taylor Swift, David Letterman, Giada De Laurentiis, Peyton Manning, and any U.S. president ever. In the brand arena, consider companies such as Apple, Fox News, Harley-Davidson, Starbucks, Disney, and Taco Bell. They all have legions of die-hard fans and they all have millions of people who can’t stand them.

No person, no company, no product is universally liked. And trying to become universally liked can ruin you. Because if you’re worried about people not liking you, you’ll avoid taking risks, or specializing, or being controversial. You’ll be bland, ordinary, mediocre. You—or your product, service or company—may very well survive, but you’ll never be a leader in your field or your category.

Instead, be different. Stand for something. Go in a bold new direction. Figure out who has a specific need that’s not being met. Challenge the status quo. Innovate. Think about how you can make your product or service more specialized or more exclusive.

Recognize that:

• No matter what you do, some people won’t like it.

• Authenticity, uniqueness, passion and quirkiness all sell.

• The more that people love your product or service, the more they’re willing to pay for it. (And the less that competition is a factor.)

• In order for you to be right for some buyers, you have to wrong for others.

• You must be willing to lose some customers and prospects to gain better ones.

• The more successful you, your product and your company become, the more detractors you’ll accumulate.

So don’t let the fear of being disliked prevent you from being extraordinary. Embrace the fact that being loved by some means being hated by others. Having detractors is not only okay, it’s necessary for your success. If not enough people dislike you, you’re not trying hard enough.

Sales Advice from The Princess Bride

April 21st, 2015

sales advice from princess brideOne of the most popular—and most quoted—movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Although it didn’t do particularly well at the box office when it was released in 1987, it has earned a massive fan base via video and cable over the years.

princess bride sales adviceThe story centers on Westley the farm boy trying to save his beloved Buttercup from being forced to marry the evil Prince Humperdinck. Along the way, he encounters a swordsman seeking to avenge his father’s death (Inigo Montoya), a giant (Fezzik), and others. The movie has action, adventure, romance, humor, and suspense. And an important sales lesson for keen observers.

Late in the movie, Inigo and Fezzik take Westley—recently killed by Prince Humperdinck—to see Miracle Max, hoping to revive him. The retired Max doesn’t want to be bothered and refuses to help. Inigo must persuade him, but his initial efforts fail. How does he succeed?

If you don’t have the entire movie committed to memory, or if—heaven forbid—you haven’t seen the movie at all (You haven’t seen it? Inconceivable!), watch this clip:

It’s only when Inigo appeals to something that matters to Max, that Max agrees to help.

So what’s the lesson? People do things for their reasons, not ours.

If you want your prospect to buy, you need to know what matters to them:

• What do they love?
• What do they hate?
• What do they want?
• What do they fear?
• What are their priorities?
• What are their values?
• What do they want more of?
• What do they want less of?

These are the things that matter to your prospect, not your features and benefits. You might have an amazing product or service, but unless you can relate it to something that’s important to your prospect, they’re not going to buy it.

By the way, this is also a leadership lesson. Everybody in your organization does what they do for their own reasons. Tap into those reasons and you can significantly improve productivity, teamwork, sales, customer service and profitability. And that is a noble cause!

Seven Things You Need to Study to Boost Your Sales

April 14th, 2015

Things to Study to Boost SalesThe top people in every profession got there by studying. Raw talent and intelligence will only take you so far. Whether you’re talking about doctors, athletes, lawyers, business leaders, artists, writers or teachers, the best are committed to continual learning.

The same is true for salespeople. If you want to join the ranks of the award-winners, here are seven things you need to study regularly:

1. Your Product or Service
Product knowledge isn’t everything, but it’s a starting point. Prospects typically don’t trust a salesperson who doesn’t know what they’re selling. Know the details of your product or service backwards and forwards. Not because you’re going to share every detail with your prospects—most don’t want to hear every detail—but because you want to be able to answer any question your prospect has.

2. Your Company
What’s your company’s history? What’s your company’s philosophy? What awards has your company won? How does your company take care of customers after the sale? What are the negative episodes in your company’s past and how has your company overcome them? What makes your company unique? Again, you’re not going to share all this information with your prospects, but if your prospect asks about any of them, you’d better be able to answer confidently.

3. Your Industry
What are the trends in your industry? What are the opportunities and dangers? How might these items affect your company and your customers?

4. Your Competition
If you’re going to effectively sell against your competitors, you need to know them as well as they know themselves. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do their products and services stack up against yours? In what ways are they superior to you? In what ways are you superior to them?

5. Your Marketplace
What are the trends in your markets? What are the challenges the people in them are facing? What do they want more of and less of? What’s happening to their budgets?

6. Your Prospect
Every prospect is different. This is where exceptional salespeople separate themselves from everyone else. They take the time to learn about each individual prospect—both in their pre-call research and their needs analysis interviewing. The more you know about your prospect, the easier it is to make the sale.

7. Selling
True sales professionals are constantly studying the art and science of selling. From prospecting to closing and everything in between, there’s always more to learn. Fortunately, there are more resources than ever before—many of them free!

Whether you’re brand new to sales or you’re a sales veteran, investing more time in studying these seven items will pay massive dividends.

Using Twitter to Power Your Sales

April 7th, 2015

Twitter Power for Boosting Your SalesWith more than a billion accounts, Twitter has changed the social, business and media landscape. CEO’s, celebrities and world leaders tweet regularly. CNN, ESPN and other media outlets routinely reference tweets on air. And the term “hashtag” has become part of the modern lexicon.

But while Twitter offers tremendous sales and marketing opportunities for businesses of all types and sizes, too many companies are either not using it well or avoiding it altogether.

Seeking to help companies make the most of Twitter are Joel Comm and Dave Taylor in their newly revised Twitter Power 3.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time.

Comm and Taylor are legitimate Twitter gurus. Both joined the microblogging site back in 2007, before most of us had even heard of it. Today, Taylor has more than 12,000 followers and Comm—who wrote the first version of Twitter Power in 2009—has more than 82,000. And their Klout scores are in the top 1% of online influencers. So these two know a little something about social media in general and Twitter in particular.

Twitter Power 3.0 is a comprehensive guide to the platform, covering everything from setting up your account to maximizing its impact for your business. If you haven’t yet joined Twitter—or if you’ve barely used it—chapters 3 through 5 will take you step by step through the process of getting started. The authors show you exactly how to:
• choose the right user name,
• create an inviting profile,
• write an effective bio, and
• begin to build a following.

If you’re a more seasoned Twitter user, jump right to chapter 6: “The Art of the Tweet.” Comm and Taylor discuss what makes a good tweet, style rules to follow, and basic Twitter etiquette. If you want to engage current and potential customers, you need to tweet in a way that is friendly, personable and approachable:

Businesses that tweet like a corporate executive addressing a board meeting will stand out on the site and scream that they have no idea what they’re doing— or whom they’re talking to.

The chapters that follow explore strategies to:
• build your brand,
• get more retweets,
• drive follower behavior,
• solicit feedback from your customers, and
• make actual money.

Throughout the book, the authors use case studies and screen shots to illustrate their points. Comm and Taylor share examples of companies that use Twitter well—so you can adopt their approaches—and companies that don’t—so you can avoid their mistakes. This is particularly important, because as the authors point out:

Firms that get social media wrong look like interlopers, uninvited guests who have gate-crashed the cool people’s party. That doesn’t just mean that they’re missing all of the opportunities that the social media site offers. It can also show that the company just doesn’t get it. That could have as negative an effect on its sales as good tweeting can have a positive effect.

Getting social media “right” isn’t all that difficult. It requires an understanding of your market and what they want from you as a brand, as well as a willingness to listen and to be “human.” In short, it means being “social.” Which is the real value of Twitter and other social media sites:

What Twitter supplies isn’t a tool for making money online immediately and with little effort. Twitter delivers something much more valuable. It provides the basis on which all successful businesses are built. It delivers trust. There really aren’t many other services that can take entrepreneurs so easily through the process of “Know me. Like me. Trust me. Pay me.” and with so many people.

Thousands of savvy companies have already harnessed the power of Twitter to boost their sales. With Twitter Power 3.0, you can join them.

Are You Pushing Prospects or Leading Them?

March 25th, 2015

Lead Sales ProspectsAikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on redirecting an attacker’s energy and using it against them. Instead of meeting force with force (i.e. kicking and punching), the idea is to blend with the assailant’s movements to either throw them or pin them to the ground. Aikido makes use of momentum, balance and gravity, rather than speed or strength.

In fact, strength can work against you. A common mistake students make—and I’m guilty of it myself all too often—is trying to push or pull their training partner to make a technique work. That typically results in failure, because pushing and pulling gives the other person energy that they can use, resulting in them pushing or pulling back. Instead, we’re taught to lead our partners. Leading involves subtle body movements that cause an attacker to change their attack slightly and lose their balance.

In other words, pushing and pulling can generate resistance. But leading takes advantage of the attacker’s natural momentum enabling us to be successful in executing the technique.

The same principle is true in sales. Pushing generates resistance.

Have you ever noticed that the harder you push a prospect to take the next step in the sales process, the more they resist?

So don’t push them. Lead them instead. How?

Ask questions.

Most people don’t like being told what to do. But they love to be asked their thoughts and opinions. So rather than dictate to your prospects, engage them Ask questions like:

“What if…?”

“How about…”

“Would it make sense to…?”

“What do you think about…?”

“Would you like to…?”

“What would you say…?”

“Do you think…?”

“Would you prefer…?”

“What else…?”

This approach allows your prospects to continue moving through the buying process without feeling pressured. No pressure, no resistance.

And you can use this technique at any point in the sales cycle: prospecting, needs analysis, overcoming objections, upselling, closing, even follow up after the sale.

So if you’re frustrated because prospects resist when you try to get them to take the next step, stop pushing. Try leading them instead. Because the best way to eliminate sales resistance is not to cause it in the first place.

16 Words (and Phrases) That Undermine Your Credibility

March 11th, 2015

Words That Undermine Your Credibility In SalesOur words can either help or hinder our sales efforts. The right words can ease our buyer’s fears, stoke their excitement, and move them to action. The wrong words can annoy prospects, insult them, and even scare them off.

Some of the most dangerous words, though, are words we’re not even aware we’re using. They’re called “crutch words.”

Crutch words are words we consistently use to
• fill space
• begin sentences
• end sentences
• add emphasis

They’re verbal tics we pick up at a young age and use so often we don’t even realize it.

And they’re hurting your credibility every time one comes out of your mouth.

What exactly are they? Here are 16 of the most common:

1. Right
2. You know
3. Like
4. So
5. Honestly (along with frankly, truthfully, to tell you the truth, to be completely honest with you)
6. Um
7. Uh
8. Okay
9. Well
10. Just
11. Basically
12. Literally
13. Really
14. Very
15. Anyway
16. Know what I mean

Because these are weak words and phrases, every one of them causes you to sound less credible, especially when you use them frequently, as most of us do. And the damage gets compounded when using them in combination: “Okay, well, basically….”

As you read this list, you probably thought of various people in your life who use these words constantly: The person who starts every sentence with “So” or “Well.” The person who ends every sentence with “right?” or “you know?” The person who uses the word “literally” in literally every sentence.

You also probably thought to yourself, “Ha! I don’t use any of those words.” Except that you do. You simply don’t realize it, because we all hear what we think we say, not what we actually say.

Record yourself delivering a sales presentation. Or ask someone to record you in conversation when not aware of it. Or ask people who know you well if you use any crutch words. I guarantee you’ll be astonished by what you hear.

Once you’re aware of your crutch words, you can work on eliminating them. Be cognizant of the words you’re using as you’re speaking. Start your sentences with a real word, not filler. End your sentences with confidence, not by trailing off (so….) or seeking confirmation (“know what I mean?”). Pause instead of saying “um” or “uh.”

Strong communication skills are vital to success in sales, as well as in customer service, leadership, and other areas of business. Make sure the words you use in conversations and presentations enhance your credibility, not sabotage it.

© Feedough | Dreamstime.comBusiness Man Making The Speak No Evil Gesture Photo

Why Being Great Isn’t Good Enough

March 4th, 2015

Why Being Great Isn't Good Enough for Your SalesYou have a great product or service. In fact, it’s better than great—it’s fantastic! It’s awesome! It’s world-class!

Guess what? It doesn’t matter. And if you’re laboring under the belief that it does, then you’re losing sales.

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this 6½ -minute segment, I explain why this is and what you can do about it. These critical insights will transform how you think about your business and 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…”

Why Being Great Isn’t Good Enough: 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 highly recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

36 Things Buyers Value More Than Low Price

February 25th, 2015

Things Buyers Value More Than Low PriceToo many people in both sales and marketing get hung up on price because they believe that price is foremost in the mind of the buyer. Yet, study after study has found that price typically ranks dead last among the reasons people buy what they buy. (And where they buy it.)

What do buyers value more than a low price? Things like:

1. Accuracy
2. Beauty
3. Being treated well
4. Cleanliness
5. Color choices
6. Comfort
7. Consistency
8. Convenience
9. Customization
10. Design
11. Durability
12. Ease of use
13. Efficiency
14. Energy savings
15. Environmental friendliness
16. Fast delivery
17. Freshness
18. Fun
19. Generous return policy
20. Healthiness
21. Less maintenance
22. Lower operating costs
23. Newness
24. Novelty
25. Painlessness
26. Power
27. Quality
28. Reliability
29. Risk reduction
30. Safety
31. Social impact
32. Speed
33. Style
34. Taste
35. Trustworthiness
36. Warranty/guarantee

So rather than focus on price, look at this list and determine which items apply to your company, product or service. Then build your marketing campaigns and sales presentations around those. Refer to those items when comparing your offerings to your competitors. Use them to overcome price objections.

When you emphasize the qualities that deliver real value to your customers, you’ll be able to close more sales. And you’ll be able to do it without discounting or price matching. Because the above items are what your buyers truly want.

What else do you value more than low price? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

© Nito100 | Dreamstime.comLow Cost Photo

Seven Toxic Sales Thoughts

February 18th, 2015

Toxic Sales ThoughtsOur thoughts determine our actions and our actions determine our results. If your results are not what you’d like them to be, odds are the root cause is one or more negative thoughts you’re harboring despite the fact they’re holding you back.

In my work training and coaching salespeople, professionals and business owners, I’ve noticed several common thoughts shared by a tremendous number of them. Are any of these thoughts poisoning your sales?

1. “Buyers are liars.”
If you believe that all prospects lie all the time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Because subconsciously you’ll treat them like the liars you believe they are, building distrust instead of trust. Assume instead that buyers are honest and you’ll build rapport and trust faster.

2. “I shouldn’t have to prospect.”
A lot of salespeople expect their company to provide them with all the leads they’ll ever need. (And great leads at that.) In a perfect world, prospects would call us all day long, ready to buy. But really, if that were the case, there would be no need for salespeople! If you want more sales, you need to do more prospecting. Embrace that fact, get better at it and make it more fun. (Hint: One study found that 70.1% of buyers would switch vendors if the new vendor was more fun to do business with.)

3. “Our product/service is too expensive.”
Nearly every prospect asks for discounts, leading most salespeople to believe that what they sell is too expensive. The reality is, most salespeople don’t appreciate the value their product or service delivers to the customer, so they discount reflexively. Take pride in what you sell, appreciate its true value, and recognize that your prospect’s budget is not the same as your budget.

4. “The competition is better than we are.”
Every product and service on the market has its own strengths and weaknesses. The trouble is, we tend to undervalue our strengths and overvalue our weaknesses. Study your competitors and determine what their weaknesses are. And do an inventory of your strengths.

5. “I don’t want to pressure anyone.”
A common fear shared by many people in sales is the fear of being perceived as a stereotypical “salesperson”: slimy, underhanded, manipulative, deceitful, obnoxious. That fear causes them to avoid asking for the sale because they don’t want to come across as pushy, overbearing or high-pressure. Which results in them losing a lot of sales. But there’s a huge difference between pressuring someone and simply asking them if they’re ready to buy. The former pushes them away, while the latter helps them overcome their inertia and make the decision they already want to make.

6. “They aren’t really buyers.”
A lot of salespeople believe they’re really good at sizing up prospects based on their appearance, reputation or title. But when you judge someone not to be a buyer, guess what? They don’t buy! (At least not from you.) Assume every prospect is a genuine buyer.

7. “Sales training is a waste of my time.”
I’m always amazed when there’s somebody in one of my seminars who clearly thinks they know it all already. I’m not saying there isn’t some bad sales training out there—I’ve sat through some of it myself—but it’s a rare seminar, book or video that you can’t learn something from. And that one thing could mean all the difference for your sales.

Be honest: How many of these thoughts have ever run through your head? If you’re like most people—and most people are—at least one. And probably more.

That’s okay. It’s normal. And becoming aware of those thoughts is the first step to correcting them. And when you change your thinking, you’ll change your sales.

photo credit: Toxic drink via photopin (license)

How to Approach Prospects

February 2nd, 2015

How to Approach Sales ProspectsYou’ve got a list of high-quality sales prospects. Great! Now what? How do you make the initial contact? What exactly do you say? How do you get them to call you back?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this ten-minute segment, I share the secrets of making an effective approach. You’ll discover what to say and—equally important—what not to say. Use these techniques when you contact prospects and they’ll actually want to talk with you!

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 Approach Prospects: 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 heartily recommend), check out WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

14 Ways Buyers Want to Feel

January 21st, 2015

Boost Sales by Making Buyers Feel These WaysYou’ve heard before that all buying is emotional. Whether you sell to businesses, governments or consumers, your buyers go through a variety of emotional states during the sales process. And while those emotional states at the start of the process can sometimes be positive (hopeful, excited), very often they’re negative.

When a buyer begins their buying process, they can feel:

• Anxious—about the process or the money involved
• Scared—of making the wrong choice
• Pressured—by bosses, family members or deadlines
• Annoyed—at having to buy something they don’t want to
• Frustrated—with their issue, the process or other people involved

And they don’t want to feel this way. One of the goals of their purchase is to eliminate these negative emotions and replace them with positive ones.

By the end of the buying process, customers want to feel:

1. Important
2. Smart
3. Respected
4. Safe
5. Secure
6. Hopeful
7. Comfortable
8. Confident
9. Relaxed
10. Happy
11. Excited
12. Special
13. Enviable
14. Appreciated

And here’s an important point: Whoever does the best job of making buyers experience these fourteen emotions is the most likely to make the sale.

So how can you replace your prospect’s negative emotions with positive ones? Here are some suggestions:

• Greet them with a warm smile and friendly handshake
• Offer them food and drink
• Learn their name and use it
• Ask them about themselves and their situation
• Listen attentively
• Let them sit in a comfortable chair
• Validate their opinions and ideas
• Stress your warranties and guarantee
• Take their objections and concerns seriously
• Provide them with testimonials
• Share examples, stories and case studies
• Refrain from rushing or pressuring them
• Give them a free trial or sample
• Treat everyone in the buying process with respect
• Send them a thank-you note or gift after the sale

Top salespeople understand that a big part of their job is managing their prospects’ emotional states. People won’t buy when they’re scared or angry. They buy when they’re comfortable and confident. And they buy from the person who makes them feel that way, along with the other ways in the above list.

So worry less about your product or service, and more about how your prospect feels. Because when you make your buyer feel most or all of these fourteen emotions, they’ll feel they should buy from you.

Five Places to Find Prospects

January 13th, 2015

Five Places to Find ProspectsWant to make more sales this year? Then you need more prospects! But where are they??

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this 7½-minute segment, I share five places to find quality prospects. Devote your time and energy to one or more of these five options and you’ll have a steady stream of great prospects all year long!

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 Places to Find Prospects: 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.

Are You Hearing What Your Prospects are Really Saying?

January 6th, 2015

One of the most critical element for sales success is the ability to listen effectively. Whenever I conduct sales training seminars, I always include a segment on listening skills because being a good listener helps you in so many ways throughout the sales process.

And one of the challenges is that we all tend to believe we’re great listeners, when the truth is that most of us suck. As Sharon Drew Morgen—in her new book, WHAT? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?—points out:

In general, we assume we hear accurately and that a miscommunication is the other person’s fault. I have a neighbor who is adamant that he hears and interprets every single word accurately, yet he can’t keep a job or a relationship or a friend and he’s 50 years old. So much for reality.

The gap between what we think we hear and what is actually being communicated is the focus of Morgen’s new book, a well-researched and well-written exploration of why communication goes wrong and what you can do about it.

The book is divided into two sections. Section One explores how listening works and—more frequently—how it doesn’t work.

Conversations seem so simple don’t they? The Sender speaks, the Receiver listens then responds. And so it goes. We nod, disagree, share, have a passionate dialogue. It works. It flows. It’s natural. Yet every conversation is fraught with the possibility of failure. Every exchange potentially includes so many biases and assumptions that don’t seem like biases and assumptions that we actually hear so little of what’s really been said, yet we think our version of what we’ve heard is accurate whether it is or not.

The problem is that our brains simply don’t hear accurately. Morgen incorporates the latest academic research as she discusses how and why our brains distort what we hear and the resulting trouble it can cause.

Few of us know how much business we’ve lost because of the lengths our brains go to keep us within our comfort zones. We end up distorting a boss’s request, or misrepresenting a colleague’s ideas, or inventing a prospect’s need, or assuming a spouse’s negative intent when there was none. And it’s so hard to fix when it’s not obvious there’s a problem.

Morgen delineates:
• Nine major elements of communication (and how they can go wrong)
• Four types of filters and how they limit, alter, and misrepresent what we hear
• Seven types of biases that prevent us from hearing accurately
• And other conversational pitfalls.

To illustrate each of these communication barriers, Morgen includes plenty of stories that are both dismaying and hysterical. My favorite was this one:

An article I’d written appeared in a British magazine. Underneath the photo of me, my name appeared as Charlotte Drew Morgan. I called the magazine editor and asked if he could please print a correction with my name accurately printed in the next issue.

Editor: We didn’t get the name wrong.

SDM: But Charlotte Drew Morgan is not my name. My name is Sharon Drew Morgen. You got my name wrong.

Editor: We don’t get that sort of thing wrong. You must have sent it to us wrong.

A head-scratching exchange. How far are we willing to go to make others wrong just to maintain our biases? How many conversations and relationships have we damaged along the way? How much business lost?

It’s those damaged relationships and lost business that WHAT? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? seeks to prevent in Section Two. Morgen reveals how to listen more effectively, without bias or misinterpretation. This information goes way beyond what many of us have learned as “Active Listening.” I teach listening skills and I learned a lot.

Throughout Section Two are a variety of quizzes, checklists and exercises to help you develop these new skills. Skills that Morgen acknowledges are  not easy to master:

I won’t sugar coat this: you will get it wrong, be confused, and be frustrated. It will take effort. I know I’m asking you to be conscious and disciplined, so it will be uncomfortable. But maybe this new skill will be less effort than picking up the pieces of a broken relationship, a lost business opportunity, or hurting a friend.

Within 24 hours of finishing WHAT? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? I was able to notice biases in my listening that I wouldn’t have been aware of before. And I was able to recognize when others misheard me and why, which enabled me to rephrase what I meant to ensure I was correctly understood.

It’s hard to overstate the value of effective communication, not just in sales, but also customer service, production, leadership and every other area of business. Strong communication skills—and especially strong listening skills—are vital to both your business and personal success. Which is why WHAT? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? should be required reading for everyone in your organization.

And the good news is, you can get a copy for everyone in your organization at no cost! Sharon Drew Morgen is so passionate about helping people improve their sales success that she’s giving the book away for free. Just click on any of the book title hyperlinks to visit the page where you can download your free copy to your favorite e-reader, computer or mobile device.

The gap between what’s said and what’s heard can be the gap between making the sale and losing it. Between getting the promotion and missing it. Between a lasting relationship and a broken one. Read WHAT? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? and you’ll be able to bridge that gap.