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.


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


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.

Ten Networking Mistakes that Hurt Your Sales

April 22nd, 2014

Networking is one of the best prospecting tactics around. Like any tactic, however, it can be used effectively or poorly. Poor networking isn’t just a waste of time, it can actually hurt your sales, because over time, you’ll develop a negative reputation.

Here are ten big mistakes to avoid when you’re networking:

1. Not spending enough time doing it
Like other marketing and prospecting tactics, networking requires consistency. The more you do it, the better your results. If you’re not actively building your network, you’ll lose sales to the competitor who is.

2. Going to the wrong events
But just going to events isn’t enough. You need to network strategically by attending the right events—the events that your ideal prospects attend.

3. Talking to people you already know
Nearly everybody has a fear of talking to strangers. (Thanks for the incessant warnings, Mom and Dad.) It’s so much easier to talk with your friends at an event. That isn’t what you’re there for, though.

4. Spending too much time with each person
Again, because we fear talking to strangers, once we do introduce ourselves to someone new, the temptation is to talk with them as long as possible. But doing that prevents us from meeting others. (And one of those others could be your next customer!)

5. Talking too much
Everyone loves to talk. But talking doesn’t build rapport. Listening does. When you ask questions and listen to the answers, the people you meet feel more comfortable and begin to like you. By contrast, when you monopolize a conversation, people stop listening to you and begin thinking, “How can I get away?”

6. Trying to sell
Networking is not selling. Let me repeat that: Networking is not selling. Nobody wants to meet somebody at an after-hours mixer and immediately be given a sales pitch. It’s the kind of thing that gives salespeople a bad name.

7. Failing to ask for cards
If you don’t get a card from the people you meet, you can’t follow up with them. You might as well have not met them in the first place.

8. Bringing too few cards
And when you ask for a card, you had better have one to exchange. Few things say “unprofessional” more than not having a card at a networking event.

9. Getting drunk
One thing that does say “unprofessional” more than running out of cards, is getting slovenly drunk at a business event. If you’re looking to ruin your reputation and become a laughingstock, getting hammered at a networking event is a sure-fire way of doing it.

10. Not following up
To a lot of salespeople, business owners and professionals, networking ends when the event does. Savvy businesspeople, however, know that networking is about meeting people and building relationships. And building relationships occurs after the event itself. If you’re not following up, you’re not really networking.

If you’re making any of these mistakes regularly, the good news is they’re all relatively easy to correct. (Except number 9. If you struggle with that, get professional help. Seriously.)

A little planning, a little courage and a little practice can make a huge difference in your networking. Which can lead to a huge increase in your sales.

How to Deal with an Angry Customer

April 8th, 2014

We’ve all been there. (And if you haven’t yet, you will at some point.) Whether because of our mistake, or through no fault of our own, a customer is angry. Beyond angry—furious!

And whether you’re a salesperson, a customer service representative, or the business owner, you get the pleasure of dealing with it.

How do you calm someone who is yelling, screaming, even threatening a lawsuit? How can you repair a relationship that seems hopelessly damaged?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this seven-minute segment, I share exactly what to do when confronted with such a nightmarish situation. You’ll discover how to calm a person down, how to prevent angering them further, and how to salvage—and even strengthen—the relationship.

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 Deal with an Angry Customer: 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 definitely recommend), check out

53 Things Buyers Want Less Of

March 31st, 2014

In a recent post, I listed 54 Things Buyers Want More Of. But buyers also want less.

Sometimes buyers want less of some things in addition to more of other things. Other times buyers are only interested in less. (This is especially true of people who tend to be negatively-focused rather than positively-focused.)

So what does your company, product or service offer your customer less of? (Or “fewer of” as the case may be.) Here are 53 ideas:

1. Uncertainty
2. Hassle
3. Pain
4. Loss
5. Effort
6. Downtime
7. Paperwork
8. Criticism
9. Fear
10. Worry
11. Frustration
12. Rejection
13. Expense
14. Risk
15. Additives
16. Embarrassment
17. Maintenance
18. Side effects
19. Disappointment
20. Stress
21. Waiting
22. Shrinkage
23. Errors
24. Unwanted attention
25. Waste
26. Calories
27. Fat
28. Trans Fat
29. Sugar
30. Caffeine
31. Artificial ingredients
32. Guilt
33. Confusion
34. Loneliness
35. Theft
36. Wasted time
37. Pollution
38. Insecurity
39. Work
40. Delays
41. Failure
42. Boredom
43. Chaos
44. Headaches
45. Emissions
46. Interruptions
47. Trouble
48. Punishment
49. Distractions
50. Wrinkles
51. Bullying
52. Toxins
53. Discomfort

Use this list (as well as the list of what buyers want more of) as you create or revise your marketing materials or sales presentations. Determine which specific items your prospective customer wants less of in their life or business and how your product or service diminishes or eliminates them.

Do that and you’ll make more sales with less effort, frustration and rejection.
What else do buyers want less of? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Two Diabolically Opposite Sales Strategies

March 20th, 2014

Is there a right way and a wrong way to sell? An old way and a new way? A slow way and a fast way? Or perhaps a risky way and a safe way?

Listen in as Dino Dogan (co-founder of Triberr) and I debate and discuss two radically different approaches to sales on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. Toward the end of the show, Geoff Livingston (founder of Tenacity 5 Media) joins us to add to the conversation. It’s like a two-hour graduate course in sales and marketing!

Be Advised: The complete show is two hours long, so you’ll probably want to download it to your favorite mobile device. To do so, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

Two Diabolically Opposite Sales Strategies: Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (mp3)

To learn more about my fellow business experts featured in this program, click their names above to follow them on Twitter or click their company names above to visit their web sites.

Do You Discriminate Enough?

March 13th, 2014

I recently read about a restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia called The Sushi Bar. Even before it opened, it received a lot of publicity for an unusual reason: The restaurant bans all children 18 and under.

Owner Mike Anderson wanted to create a dining experience that would enable adults to eat without children around. He envisioned a place that would give parents a break from their kids and would be a perfect “date night” destination for couples.

Naturally the policy has generated a storm of controversy, with many parents decrying the “discriminating” approach and vowing never to eat there.

Others, however, have heartily supported Anderson, both vocally and by packing the restaurant nightly.

Because not only are the food and service terrific, but because the restaurant discriminates.

Discrimination isn’t always illegal. And it isn’t always wrong. Curves is a women-only gym. Retirement communities only allow residents above a certain age. Hooters doesn’t hire men to work as wait staff. Numerous vacation resorts around the world are “adults-only.”

What do all these businesses have in common?

They each create a distinctive experience, one that is different from their competitors.

Keep in mind that the word “discriminate” also means “to distinguish” or “differentiate.”

So how are you distinguishing yourself, your company or your product? How do you differentiate from your competition? And how are you discriminating among your potential customers?

Because you can’t be all things to all people. To be successful, you need to be the ideal solution for your ideal customer. Which means you need to have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is:

• What are they like?
• Where are they?
• What do they want?
• How are they motivated?
• What are their problems?
• How much will they spend?
• What are their values?

Being the ideal choice for your ideal customer means being an unappealing choice for those who aren’t. If you want your ideal prospects to say “yes” to you, you need to say “no” to others.

So who are you willing to say “no” to?

Five Ways to Increase Your Sales

March 4th, 2014

Every salesperson, business owner and CEO wants to increase their sales. The question is how to do it?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this eight-minute segment, I share five simple strategies that anyone, in any business, can implement quickly and easily. Whatever your position, whatever your industry, I guarantee you’ll be able to use at least a couple—if not all five—of these strategies to give your sales a boost!

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 Ways to Increase 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

54 Things Buyers Want More Of

February 20th, 2014

Human beings are never satisfied. Which is a good thing, because it’s that trait that causes us to continually progress. We want bigger, better, faster.

We want more.

Whenever we buy something, it’s because we’re looking to attain more of something in our life or business.

So what does your company, product or service offer your customer more of? Here are 54 ideas:

1. Taste
2. Information
3. Entertainment
4. Capacity
5. Energy
6. Flexibility
7. Attention
8. Security
9. Time
10. Money
11. Features
12. Accuracy
13. Power
14. In-depth analysis
15. Options
16. Excitement
17. Support
18. Uses
19. Coverage
20. Seating
21. Freedom
22. Certainty
23. Opportunities
24. Consistency
25. Productivity
26. Storage
27. Praise
28. Choices
29. Attendees
30. Reach
31. Battery life
32. Growth
33. Protection
34. Influence
35. Love
36. Sex
37. Confidence
38. Ability
39. Results
40. Fun
41. Space
42. Insight
43. Control
44. Advantages
45. Reliability
46. Connection
47. Mobility
48. Convenience
49. Energy efficiency
50. Comfort
51. Health
52. Capabilities
53. Perks
54. Success

Use this list as you create or revise your marketing materials or sales presentations. Identify which specific items your prospective customer wants more of and determine how your product or service provides them with those things.

Do that and you’ll achieve more sales.

What else do buyers want more of? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Prospects Aren’t Always Prospects

February 14th, 2014

By guest blogger
Sharon Drew Morgen

As sellers, we’ve been taught that someone with a need that our solution fulfills is a prospect. But that’s not true or we’d be closing a lot more business and wasting a lot less time following the wrong prospects. Just because we see a need does not mean they:

A. want it resolved
B. want it resolved now
C. have the buy-in to bring in an external solution rather than using their own internal fix or beloved vendor
D. are ready to give up the work-around they have in place that resolves the problem well enough.

So Rule #1: Need does not a prospect make.

Unfortunately, the sales model has no capability to go behind-the-scenes to facilitate buy-in from the internal system—the other people who don’t see a need or don’t want to share budget, the tech group that wants to do it all themselves, or the president who has her own agenda and hasn’t informed everyone yet.

Rule #2: Until everyone and everything that will touch the new solution buys in to bringing it on board, there will be no purchase, regardless of a need.


Buyers have systems problems; a solution purchase (or any sort of change) is merely the last element in a chain of events that must fit together so everything internally keeps ticking along comfortably.

Rule #3: The system is sacrosanct, regardless of the efficacy of your solution.

Here are two situations in which I failed miserably (and lost quite a bit of money), prior to understanding that buyers (in companies and individuals) must manage internal stability before they can buy.

I did a pilot for an iconic multinational. Using Buying Facilitation® the group had a 400% increase in sales over the control group (we shortened the sales cycle from 7 months to 4 weeks). They got rid of me because the problems caused by increased revenue and cash flow issues, shifts of the manufacturing schedules, etc., would cost many millions to fix. They eschewed the increased profit to maintain the system.

I trained a large insurance group that got a 600% increase in sales over the control group (they went from 110 visits and 18 closed sales to 27 visits and 25 closed sales). After the results were in, the trained team handed in their resignations because they said they were “field sales” reps and would rather quit then come inside, regardless of how much money they made. They liked handing out donuts and schmoozing.

From my point of view this is nuts. But from theirs it made sense. Systems maintain their status quo at all costs, regardless of the benefits of our solutions. Indeed, if the system had wanted to change and knew how to change without disrupting the status quo, it would have already. Systems prefer excellence so long as there is stability.


Philosophically, the sales model is accurate: we can see needs that our solutions will resolve. But it’s not a prospect until or unless the Buying Decision Team—everyone who will touch the final solution—is ready, willing, and able to bring our solution in and knows how to shift rules or job descriptions, bring in new technology without downtime, and ensure there are no historic blind spots.

I developed Buying Facilitation® in 1983 to manage the sales issues my team was having in my new tech company. After 5 prior years in sales, I couldn’t make sense of why “prospects” weren’t buying as often as was logical. But as an entrepreneur who needed to purchase solutions myself, I faced the problem all buyers face: how, when, if to make a change and avoid disruption. So I developed Buying Facilitation® and trained my team.

We began doubling our sales. I even taught my techies how to facilitate their users to make sure they got the buy-in for their programs and projects and got the right data at the right time.

Facilitate systemic change in your area of expertise first—enter each sales call as a facilitator rather than as a detective seeking a need/solution match. Help prospective buyers determine how to change, how to get buy-in, how to bring in your solution. Along the way, you both will determine next steps, who needs to be included, and how to get everyone on board—with you!—to move toward the remedy your solution will provide. And then you can sell.

Buying Facilitation® first, then sales. You need both.

Sharon Drew Morgen has been helping sellers influence and facilitate the buyer’s behind-the-scenes buying journey since the mid 80s, coining the terms Buying Patterns, Buying Path, Buying Decision, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Team, and Buying Facilitation®. Her unique capability to recognize where buyers are stuck in the buy cycle, and designing strategies to teach buyers how to traverse their buy-in activities, have made her a sought-out coach and consultant. To learn more or to contact Sharon Drew, visit

Four Fears That Are Preventing Your Sales Success

February 5th, 2014

Are you not experiencing the sales success you’d like? Odds are, one or more fears are holding you back. And the challenge is, we’re typically not even aware we have these fears!

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this eight-minute segment, I reveal what these fears are, where they come from, and what to do about them. Understanding these fears is the first step to conquering them, so you can experience the success you deserve!

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 Fears That Are Preventing Your Sales Success: 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

Selling In the Age of the Customer

January 27th, 2014

Human history has been marked by technological innovations so significant, they ushered in an entirely new era. Think Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age. Or more recently, the Age of Discovery, the Age of Enlightenment, the Machine Age, the Information Age.

In his new book, The Age of the Customer, Jim Blasingame argues that we are undergoing such a shift right now. And its implications are huge for anyone in business.

Blasingame divides human economic activity into two Ages: the Age of the Seller and the Age of the Customer. The former began when early people first started trading with each other. The latter, Blasingame pinpoints to April 30, 1993—the date the Mosaic web browser was introduced, opening up the Internet to the average person.

The web has fundamentally altered how people buy, according to Blasingame. He identifies three specific elements that have changed:


• “Virtually everything a business can sell has become a commodity.
• It’s much less frequent for a seller to introduce an innovation that is so unique that it provides any level of control over customers.
• For millennia, customer purchase options were from a limited number of merchants. In the new Age, customer have multiple shopping and purchasing options.”


• “The entire universe of human knowledge—including information formerly controlled by sellers—is now generally available to the entire universe of humans.
• Humans now have the ability to discover, learn, comment on, and share their experiences, opinions, and appraisals.”


“In the Age of the Seller, word-of-mouth was incidental and had a marginal impact on how a seller conducted business. In the new Age, word-of-mouth has expanded and morphed into User Generated Content (UGC): the posting on digital platforms of experiences, attitudes, questions, praise, or condemnation. UGC is word-of-mouth on steroids.”

Blasingame comes to a scary conclusion: “Prospects have access to virtually all the information they need before the Seller even knows they’re interested.”

Let that sink in a moment.

The rules of the game have changed. Dramatically. Irrevocably. Which leads Blasingame to a powerful insight: “In the new Age, the greatest danger for every business is not being uncompetitive, but becoming irrelevant.”

So how does a business become and stay relevant? That’s what Blasingame devotes most of the book to, addressing marketing, sales and customer service. He discusses:

• How to build trust with prospects and customers
• The critical difference between demographics and communities
• Why you must become a publisher
• Three Laws of Small Business Social Media
• How your brand has been co-opted by people you don’t even know
• The evolution of expectations
• Why quality process trumps quality service
• And much more.

The Age of the Customer is well written, with plenty of stories to illustrate Blasingame’s points. The book is peppered with graphs, quotes and “Blasingame’s Laws”—pithy nuggets that are worth the price of the book themselves.

Every new age has presented challenges and opportunities. Those that fail to adapt suffer, while those who take advantage of the new opportunities thrive. Think of The Age of the Customer as your guidebook to higher sales in this new—and exciting—age.

Get it at Amazon:

The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance

Are You Thanking Your Customers or Insulting Them?

January 16th, 2014

I recently celebrated a birthday, which I tend to do about every year or so. In addition to the cards, phone calls, texts and Facebook messages from friends and family, I also received numerous e-mails from businesses I frequent.

Each e-mail bore warm wishes for wonderful day and presented me with a special “gift”—a coupon for a free desert with the purchase of an entrée, a buy-one-get-one free offer, or a discount off a regular purchase.

Gee, thanks.

The subtext of their message is “We’d like to celebrate your birthday by having you come by and give us some of your money!”

How generous of you.

I get similar e-mails from time to time with subject lines like “Thank you for your loyalty” or “A Special Gift for You.” The message inside always expresses the company’s gratitude for my business, and as a token of that gratitude, they’d like to extend me a special offer. Which again is always some type of discount.

Understand this:

A discount is not a gift!

A discount offer is a sales pitch.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with offering an existing customer a discount on a future purchase, per se. But saying you want to “thank” or “celebrate” a customer by getting them to buy more is insulting as hell.

I would rather you just ignore my birthday and my loyalty than send me sales come-ons disguised as gifts, because the self-servingness offends me.

And guess what? It offends your customers as well.

If you really want to thank your customers for their business, send them a real gift. Something absolutely free, that requires no purchase or obligation. It can be your product or service. It can be a gift card. It can be something unrelated to your business. It can even be a donation to a charity in their name.

That conveys your gratitude.

And when your customers feel that you truly appreciate them, they return more often, spend more money, and tell more people about you.

So stop insulting your customers. Start thanking them instead.