Open Your Mind to Close More Sales

April 25th, 2017

Open Your Mind to Close More SalesThe single biggest obstacle to closing the sale isn’t your price, your competition or your prospect.

It’s you.

Specifically, it’s your subconscious beliefs and fears about closing. Most salespeople are hindered by negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes, but because they’re subconscious, we’re not even aware of them.

Negative beliefs about sales in general, and closing in particular, are programmed into us on a daily basis, from the time we’re children. This unfortunate programming comes both from the media and from real life.

Popular culture—movies, TV, books, plays, even comic strips—nearly always portrays salespeople as greedy, selfish, pushy, sleazy, underhanded, manipulative, lying, cheating, obnoxious slimeballs. Just think:

• Glengarry Glen Ross
• Boiler Room
• Death of a Salesman
• The Simpsons
• Cadillac Man
• Dilbert
• The Music Man
• Gone Fishin’
• The Outlaw Josey Wales
• Married… with Children
• Fargo
• The Wolf of Wall Street
• Suckers
• True Lies
• WKRP in Cincinnati
• Tin Men
• The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
• Used Cars
• Tommy Boy

Unfortunately, the stereotype portrayed in various media all too often stems from the real world. Anyone who has ever shopped for a major purchase—furniture, appliances, a car, a time-share property—can tell you a horror story about the salesperson from hell. It’s no surprise that salespeople are often referred to as “sharks,” “vultures” and “wolves.” It’s also no surprise that, as a group, “Salespeople” typically ranks near the bottom in surveys of who people trust. (Usually right near politicians.)

Most salespeople, however, don’t fit this stereotype. The vast majority of salespeople sell with honesty and integrity. They’re good people who look out for the best interests of the customer. They’re people like you.

The problem for good salespeople is that we’ve been infected by these negative images of what a salesperson is and it creates a conflict within ourselves. We believe—on a subconscious level—that “salespeople” are greedy, selfish, pushy, underhanded, obnoxious liars. But we don’t want to be perceived as such. So we avoid doing anything we think might possibly be interpreted that way.

And that’s what hamstrings us. Because we fear being perceived as the stereotype, we don’t do a lot of things that are necessary to make the sale. Where this problem looms largest is closing.

We’re afraid (again, subconsciously) that if we try to close the sale, we’re being pushy, rude, arrogant, obnoxious. So all too often we don’t really try. But closing is a critical part of our jobs, arguable the most critical part. You can do everything else right—prospecting, needs analysis, presentation, overcoming objections—but if you don’t close, there’s no sale.

Here’s the secret to closing the sale effectively: understand that prospects need you close them. The prospect is sitting there (or possible standing there) in a state of inertia. Remember the Law of Inertia? “A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” Which means the prospect’s natural inclination is to do nothing, even though they need and/or want whatever it is you’re selling. So it’s up to you to nudge them out of their inertia and into action. That’s all that closing is.

Assuming this purchase really is in the best interest of the prospect, closing is not pushy, rude, arrogant or obnoxious. In fact, not closing is a disservice to the prospect, because it’s preventing them from enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

It’s not the prospect’s job to ask us to sell them our stuff. (Left to their own devices, they rarely will, due to that pesky inertia.) Instead, it’s our job to ask them to buy it. And they need us to do it. When you consider the relationship in this way, it completely changes how you think of the process. And when you’re able to change the way you think—both consciously and subconsciously—closing the sale becomes easier than you ever imagined.

13 Characteristics of Top Salespeople

April 18th, 2017

13 Characteristics of Top SalespeopleThere are average salespeople, and then there are extraordinary salespeople. What’s the difference between the two?

I’ve had the privilege of speaking to, coaching, and training tens of thousands of salespeople over the years. Here are the characteristics that I’ve learned distinguish the exceptional salespeople from everyone else.

1. Proactive
Great salespeople don’t wait for opportunities, they create them. They initiate. They set their own goals and they proactively do what it takes to achieve them.

2. Competitive
The best salespeople are the best because they have to be—they’re highly competitive. And not only with their competitors, but with themselves. They’re always trying to beat their previous records and top their previous successes.

3. Service-oriented
Amazing salespeople don’t try to win at their customer’s expense though. They understand that they only win if their buyer wins as well. Their empathy and their focus on service lead them to be consultants and advocates for their clients.

4. Organized
An efficient salesperson is an effective salesperson. The most effective employ both tools and systems to stay organized so they can make the most of their precious time.

5. Positive
Extraordinary salespeople think positively. They expect success. They see the bright side and can perceive opportunities where others can’t. They’re optimistic about the future and believe that things will work out.

6. Resilient
Things don’t always work out though. And when they don’t, great salespeople press on nonetheless. When they fail, they pick themselves up, learn from their failure, and try again.

7. Personable
Exceptional salespeople know how to make friends and build relationships. They tend to genuinely like people. They are good listeners and are able to read people and adapt their behavior. Plus their positive attitudes are attractive to prospects and customers alike.

8. Assertive
This doesn’t mean that they will “go along to get along” or allow themselves to be pushed around, however. Top salespeople are not shy about making recommendations or asking for commitments. That’s not to say they’re pushy—there’s a big difference between assertive and aggressive, and great salespeople understand the difference.

9. Conscientious
Outstanding salespeople care. About big things and little things. About themselves and others. They are honest and ethical, taking pride in their words and actions. They ensure that things get done and that they’re done right.

10. Disciplined
You can’t do everything, and superlative salespeople accept this. They excel at prioritizing their to-do lists. They’re fanatical about managing their time and focusing on what’s most important.

11. Tenacious
Too many salespeople give up too easily. Top performers know that sales can often take a long time. So they follow up relentlessly. They evince a similar commitment when facing challenges: they stick with the problem until they solve it.

12. Confident
Exceptional salespeople are supremely confident. And not just in themselves. They’re also confident in their product, service, company, and team members. And because confidence is contagious, their prospects become confident as well.

13. Inquisitive
There’s always more to learn, and the best salespeople never assume they know it all. On the contrary, they have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge which leads them to become life-long learners. They read books, magazines, and blogs; they listen to CDs and podcasts; they attend conferences, seminars, and workshops. They are always learning, so they are always getting better.

If this list doesn’t describe you perfectly, don’t despair. Think of it as a roadmap to greatness. You can improve in any or all of these areas. Just pick a few, make a plan, and execute it.

Strengthen your skills in these thirteen areas and you too can be one of the best.

Perception Is All That Matters for Your Sales

April 11th, 2017

Perception Is All That Matters for Your SalesEvery business speaker, blogger, podcaster, columnist, and comedian owes a huge debt of gratitude to United Airlines. In forcibly dragging a paying customer off an overbooked plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, United has given us all great content to use on stage, in print, and online.

And they’ve given us an incredible amount of content as well, because United did pretty much everything wrong in this situation, from their policies which led to the incident, to CEO Oscar Munoz’s horrible half-hearted apology.

Now, there are some mitigating factors here.

1. Airlines are legally allowed to bump passengers from flights when they are overbooked, or when they need to transport crew, as was the case here. This is specified in the “Contract of Carriage” of every airline.

2. Because purchasing a ticket enters you into a legally binding contract, passengers are legally required to leave a plane if they are bumped.

3. United has a lower rate of bumping passengers than many other domestic airlines, including Southwest, JetBlue, American, and Frontier.

4. The people who forcibly removed the passenger were not United employees, but rather, Chicago Department of Aviation security officers.

5. United did not do anything that violated the law or company policy. “We followed the right procedures,” United spokesman Charlie Hobart stated.

Here’s the thing, though:

None of that matters.

All that matters is the video of a paying customer being dragged down the aisle, shrieking in terror. Tens—if not hundreds—of millions of people have seen that video and come to the conclusion that United Airlines is a heartless company staffed by jack-booted thugs who just might forcibly eject them from their next flight.

It doesn’t matter if that belief is right or wrong. Perception is reality. Perception is all that matters. And once that perception is created, it’s extremely hard to change.

What does this mean for your business? And what can you learn from United’s extraordinary blunder?

1. Policies are less important than people.
I’ve written about this before. If your policies create problems for your customers, then your policies need to be revised. Or scrapped completely. Policies should enable great customer service, not undermine it.

2. Someone is always watching.
There are more video cameras today than ever before. Everybody with a cell phone has one. Always assume everything you—and your people—do is being recorded and act accordingly.

3. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right if others think you’re wrong.
People judge you by what they see without knowing the backstory. And they don’t care about the backstory. Because they put themselves in the position of your customer, not you. Customers care about themselves, which is why you need to care about them too. Show sensitivity to them. Make exceptions for them. Solve problems for them rather than creating more.

4. Have a crisis communication plan in place.
Don’t hope a crisis never happens—plan for it to happen. With the ubiquity of social media, having a plan in place is more vital than ever before. As crisis communications expert Gerard Braud advises, “A crisis communication plan has to be built for speed—the speed of Twitter. If you wait hours to respond, and Twitter is responding in seconds, you’re already too late. You absolutely must have an extensive library of prewritten news releases that can be edited and used in a matter of minutes.”

5. Every person in your company impacts sales.
From the CEO to the janitor, everybody in your organization affects sales either positively or negatively. And every single thing they do has the potential to help or hurt your sales.

6. Train your people.
For that reason, you should be training your people continually. All your people. On a wide range of skills, including sales, communication, leadership, negotiating, customer service, teamwork, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, personal development, and more. Effective training not only prevents problems from occurring, but enables your people to improve results in all areas of your business.

The way people perceive your company determines how successful your company is. Keep that in mind as you formulate—and reformulate—your policies, communicate with your team, create your plans, train your people, and make decisions. What narrative do you want the public to see and hear? You are constantly being judged. Give people reasons to judge you positively.

26 Ways to Boost Your Customer Loyalty

April 4th, 2017

26 Ways to Boost Your Customer LoyaltyEvery business wants more customer loyalty. Loyal customers are the easiest and fastest to sell to. They buy more often. They don’t beat you up on price. They forgive you when you make a mistake or encounter a problem. They tell other people about you. Loyal customers are pure sales gold.

But loyalty is a two-way street. You have to earn loyalty. And you earn it by exhibiting it.

Are you being loyal to your clients? Are you taking great care of them consistently? Are you demonstrating—rather than merely stating—your appreciation?

Here are 26 ways you can exhibit loyalty to your customers:

1. Greet them by name
2. Remember their preferences
3. Reduce their waiting time
4. Give them your best pricing
5. Upgrade them
6. Give them a bonus
7. Waive a late fee or finance charge
8. Invite them to events
9. Customize your product or service for them
10. Resolve their problems quickly
11. Give them gifts
12. Feed them
13. Stay in regular communication with them
14. Don’t give new clients better deals than you give existing ones
15. Ask for their input on new offerings
16. Provide them with information to enhance their life or business
17. Make their buying process faster and easier
18. Offer them exclusive deals and sales
19. Give them a dedicated phone number, web site, or contact person
20. Let them be the first to try new products and services
21. Keep them updated when problems or opportunities arise
22. Buy from them
23. Refer business to them
24. Publicize them
25. Donate to their favorite charities
26. Ask them how you can improve

How many of these actions are you taking on a regular basis? The more you do, the stronger your customers’ loyalty will be.

Customers become loyal to a company when the business makes them feel appreciated, important, and cared for. When you are devoted to your customers, they’ll be devoted to you.

Are You Making Your Prospect Uncomfortable?

March 28th, 2017

Are You Making Your Prospect Uncomfortable?A female friend called me recently to tell me a story.

She had arrived home from work around dusk. As she approached her house, she noticed two men walking through the neighborhood. She pulled into her driveway, opened her garage door, and parked in the garage.

As she exited her car, the two men approached her driveway and began their spiel. They were selling home repair services and wanted to talk with her about her about her house. She told them it wasn’t a good time for her, but they kept walking up the driveway, talking as if she hadn’t said anything.

She stated firmly that it was getting dark and she wasn’t comfortable talking with them then and there. They continued to close in on her, reciting their sales pitch. It wasn’t until she threatened to call the police that the two salesmen finally turned around.

Needless to say, after that experience, my friend is never buying anything from them. In fact, she has talked with her neighbors, and now none of them will consider buying from this company.

This might be the best home repair company in the country, using the best quality supplies and the most skilled labor. But it doesn’t matter because their clueless salespeople made her feel so uncomfortable that she never wants any contact with them ever again.

Are you—or your salespeople—making your prospects uncomfortable? It’s easy to do because we forget that other people are not necessarily comfortable with what we’re comfortable with. So be wary of these potential triggers:

Many people find profanity offensive. And even many who use profanity among their friends or family don’t approve of using it in a business situation. Also, avoid sexual innuendo and double entendres. This is a sales call, not a nightclub.

Dirty jokes, ethnic jokes, blonde jokes, etc.—avoid them all. What you do with your buddies is one thing. What you do with prospects and clients is another thing altogether.

Body Language
Are your arms crossed? Are you leaning over your prospect? Do you have your feet up on something they shouldn’t be resting on?

Facial Expressions
Is your facial expression warm and friendly, or cold and dour? Or alternatively, are you undressing the other person with your eyes?

The line between professional and casual gets more blurred by the day. Err on the side of professionalism. You can always loosen your tie or remove your jacket if you perceive you’re overdressed. And be sure your outfit isn’t too sexy for a business situation.

Physical Distance
Getting too close to someone can evoke a response ranging from mild anxiety to sheer terror. Keep your distance. Exactly how much depends on the culture. But better to be too far than too close.

Acting like you didn’t hear what the prospect said, insulting a competitor, dismissing a prospect’s concerns or priorities, failing to do what a prospect asks, or doing something without their permission all raise red flags in your prospect’s mind.

Foreign Language
Using a language your prospect doesn’t speak causes them to immediately distrust you. Use only the language they know best, or have an interpreter translate everything you say.

People don’t want to deal with a salesperson who looks or smells bad. Get some honest feedback about your appearance and body odors. And if you smoke, quit.

Being pushy, impatient, disrespectful, demanding, or loud will cause prospects to run in the opposite direction.

People don’t buy when they’re uncomfortable, anxious, distrustful, or scared. The buy when they’re comfortable, confident, and excited. Everything you—and your sales team—say and do either increases your prospect’s comfort and confidence level or erodes it. Make sure all of your words and actions do the former and not the latter.

Five Steps to Creating a Powerful Marketing Piece

March 21st, 2017

Five Steps to Creating a Powerful Marketing PieceMuch—if not most—marketing is wasted. Various studies put the number at anywhere from 40% to 60%. You can’t afford to waste time, money, and effort like that though. If you want to generate more sales, your marketing needs to be effective.

How can you make sure it is? With five simple questions: who, why, what, where, and when. Whatever kind of marketing you’re contemplating—be it a website, a radio commercial, a flyer, a YouTube video, a sales letter, a Google ad, a brochure, a social media contest—answer these five questions in detail to ensure its success.

1. Who is the audience?
Everything starts with your intended audience. Who are they? What do they read, watch, and listen to? Where do they go and when? What are their problems and goals? What do they want more of and less of? The more narrowly you can define your prospective customers, the more relevant a message you can craft. You’ll also know where to put that message for maximum exposure to those people.

2. Why should they care?
Whatever your medium, you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your prospect. To do that, you need to open with something that will resonate with them. Which means your headline or opening needs to make a statement or pose a question that relates to something they care about. (Hint: Your company, product, or service ain’t something they care about.) Your headline or opening should address a problem they have or a goal they possess.

3. What is the message?
This is the bulk of your marketing piece. What do they need to know? How will buying your product or service impact them? How does it achieve the promised results? What makes your product or service better than your competition’s? What proof can you provide? Include as much information as the medium allows, always linking everything back to the benefit to the reader or viewer—because that’s what they care about most.

4. Where do they go to take the next step?
What’s the next step? Do they need to call you to schedule an appointment? Should they come down to your location? Click here to have someone contact them? Submit an entry on your Facebook page? A marketing piece without a call to action is virtually worthless. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. To improve compliance, make the step easy.

5. When should they take it?
Finally, tell your prospect when they should take action. Should they call now? Do they need to come to the store on certain days or certain hours? Is there a deadline? Be clear. Also, it’s essential that you overcome their natural inertia by giving them a reason to act when you want them to. It can be a promotion, a bonus, a limited supply, an event, or something else they gain by acting in the specified time frame or lose by failing to act.

Too many businesses waste their marketing budgets by sending the wrong message to the wrong people. Follow these five steps with every marketing effort you make and your business won’t be one of them.

Selling Virtuously

March 8th, 2017

Selling VirtuouslyDoes boosting your sales mean you have to be sneaky, underhanded, manipulative, and high-pressure? Absolutely not! In fact, if you truly want to excel in sales, you need to be just the opposite. Because a virtuous salesperson is a successful salesperson.

Listen to my appearance on the Black Belt Selling podcast with Anna and Stephanie Scheller. In this interview, we discuss:

• Why the old ways of selling don’t work today
• The key to making the sale
• How a coach or mentor can help you boost your sales
• The two most important sales skills you must master
• And more!

You don’t have to choose between selling effectively and feeling good about yourself. You can—and should—do both!

17 Places to Look for New Prospects

February 21st, 2017

17 Places to Look for New ProspectsWondering where your next sales lead is coming from? Wonder no more! There are lots of places to find potential prospects—some in the physical world and some in the digital. Here are—in alphabetical order—17 of them:

1. Associations
2. Chambers of Commerce
3. Directories
4. Facebook
5. Google ads
6. Industry events
7. Instagram
8. Lead-sharing groups
9. Linkedin
10. Mailing lists
11. Networking events
12. Pinterest
13. Snapchat
14. Trade shows
15. Twitter
16. Your existing customers
17. YouTube

Each of these options has multiple opportunities for reaching potential buyers. Pick three or four places to devote your time and figure out how to maximize your investment in each. If something doesn’t work, tweak what you’re doing or try another place altogether.

The important thing for your sales is not to sit around waiting for prospects to find you. They may find your competition first, or they may never even realize they need you. Instead, go after them. You know where they are.

Tell Your Prospect: Be Mine

February 7th, 2017

Tell Your Prospect Be MineEveryone sends Christmas cards. Their impact is minimal, because we all receive so many of them that none stand out.

Instead, try sending your prospects and customers Valentine’s Day cards. Not the big, fancy, expensive ones. I’m talking about the little ones with cartoon characters on them that come 30 or so to a pack. The kind we used to give each other in third grade. At just a few dollars a package, they’re a marketing bargain.

You might add a short note—something like:

• LOVE having you as a client
• You & Us 4ever
• We’ll Stand By You
• Let’s Get Busy
• Call Me, Maybe?
• You’ll love working with us
• Miss You
• Let us be your one & only

Send them off to your clients and prospects in your own (hand-addressed) envelopes and wait for the response.

If you want to up the ante, include a few—or a package of—Conversation Hearts candies. Or a few chocolate hearts. Or some other Valentine’s candy. Your investment will be a little more, but your impact will be even greater.

This is an especially powerful tactic when dealing with prospects. A survey conducted by Britt Beemer for American Demographics found that 70.1% of respondents would switch to a different vendor if the company was more fun to do business with.

That company could be yours. Wouldn’t you love that?

Seven Negotiating Mistakes That Hurt Your Sales

January 31st, 2017

Seven Negotiating Mistakes That Hurt Your SalesNegotiation is an essential element of most sales efforts. Yet too many salespeople, professionals, and business owners lack the skills to negotiate successfully. If you’re not good at negotiating, it can cost you both sales and profits.

Have you made any of these common negotiating mistakes lately?

1. Not being willing to walk away
This is both the most common and most deadly negotiating mistake. If you’re not willing to walk away from the deal, you’ve already lost. Your willingness to walk away is your greatest source of power in any negotiation.

2. Having the wrong attitude
Do you—like many people—hate negotiating? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you do whatever it takes to avoid it? Then you need an attitude reset. Negotiating is not about fighting or conflict or seeing who can screw over the other side more. It’s about working together to create an outcome that’s beneficial for both parties. It can be challenging, but it can also be fun and invigorating.

3. Undervaluing your product or service
Too many salespeople don’t appreciate the full value of their own products and services. As a result, they often ask for too little or they agree to a low-ball first offer—both of which hurt profits.

4. Failing to do sufficient research
Whoever has more information in a negotiation has an advantage. How much do you know about your buyer? What are their goals and dreams? What are their concerns and fears? What are their values and priorities? What pressures and deadlines are they dealing with? What is your product or service really worth to them? What options do they have besides buying from you?

5. Focusing on only one issue at a time
While it’s natural to try to resolve one issue before moving on to another, it’s also easy to get stuck that way. Look at the whole picture. Often you can trade one issue for another, thus resolving two at once.

6. Making unilateral concessions
When you make a concession without getting one in return, you encourage your buyer to ask for more. If there’s no cost to them, why shouldn’t they ask? Which opens you up to losing more and more on the deal. Always, always, always require a concession from your buyer in exchange for a concession from you.

7. Not looking for creative solutions
What’s important to your buyer besides what’s on the table? What’s important to you besides what’s in the contract? Could you give them better terms instead of a discount? Could they provide you with referrals? Could you throw in something that costs you little or nothing but would be valuable to them? Look for creative ways to increase the value for both sides. (Hint: This is where having lots of information about your prospect really comes in handy.)

Fortunately, each of these mistakes is relatively easy to correct and thus avoid in the future. Awareness is a big part of each one. Practice negotiating in low-stakes situations to get more comfortable, gain confidence, and hone your skills. That way, when the pressure is on, you won’t make any of these mistakes, earning you more sales and more profits.

Nine Ways to Correct a Customer Without Insulting Them

January 24th, 2017

Nine Ways to Correct a Customer Without Insulting Them

In my last post, I wrote about the fact that—contrary to a popular business cliché—customers are often wrong. In those situations, it’s up to us to correct them, so they don’t make a mistake, or at least prevent them from making the same mistake again.

How we correct people though, is critical. It’s imperative to avoid making potential or existing customers feel stupid, because a person who feels insulted shuts down, and may walk away forever.

For that reason, you should never, ever tell a buyer, “You’re wrong.” Just because they are, doesn’t mean they need the fact rubbed in their face.

Instead, empathize with them and validate their belief. Use statements like:

• “I understand how you might think that.”
• “A lot of people are under that impression.”
• “That’s a common misconception.”
• “I used to think that too.”
• “Unfortunately there’s a ton of misinformation out there.”
• “I hear that a lot.”

If you’re dealing with a customer problem that was partially—or entirely—the customer’s fault, use statements such as:

• “That’s an easy mistake to make.”
• “Happens all the time.”
• “I probably would have done the same thing.”

By empathizing and validating, you help your prospect or customer feel better about being wrong. When your buyer feels understood and respected, rather than belittled and judged, they respect and like you more. Which makes it easier for you to correct their thinking, as well as to get or keep them as a customer.

Correcting a customer who is wrong is not the time to display your intellectual superiority. Rather, it’s the time to empathize and validate, because both sales and customer service are ultimately all about emotions. Create a positive emotional experience for your customer and they’ll reward you with their business.

The Customer Is Rarely Right

January 17th, 2017

The Customer Is Rarely RightOne of the most common clichés in business is “The customer is always right.” It’s a staple of books and training seminars on sales, marketing, and customer service.

And it’s dead wrong.

While today’s buyers certainly have access to more information than ever before, there are still plenty of things they typically don’t know, and thus can be wrong about. These include:

• What questions to ask
• The costs that go into producing a product or service
• What they really need versus what they think they need
• The meaning of industry terms
• What makes one product or service better than another
• Hidden costs, fees, and taxes
• Risks
• How appropriate something is for their particular situation
• Maintenance needs and costs
• Why buying a cheaper option can be terrible
• How to properly use their new product or service
• The future
• What they don’t know

Add to this all the biases, prejudices, misinformation, rumors, myths, and urban legends rattling around in the average person’s head, and it’s no wonder so many prospects have difficulty making buying decisions.

That’s what buyers need you for. To clear them of their misconceptions, help them figure out which options are best for them, and ensure they have a positive ownership experience.

It’s also why you need to begin your selling process by asking lots of questions and listening carefully to the answers. So you can discover what they know and what they only think they know. It’s the latter than can cost you the sale. Only when you uncover the gaps and inaccuracies in your prospect’s knowledge can you help them overcome them. That way you can both be right.

Look to the Past for Future Sales

January 10th, 2017

Look to the Past for Future SalesAs a general rule, it’s best to focus on the present while keeping an eye toward the future. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should completely ignore the past. Because not only does the past hold a plethora of lessons—both personal and business—it can also hold opportunities for sales now and in the future. Here are three past sources of future business.

1. Past Clients
Your past customers already know you and (hopefully) like you, so the hardest work is already done. How else can you serve them? Do you have new products or services they could use? Have they developed new needs, challenges or goals? Do they have other divisions or locations that could use what you sell? And do they know other prospects they can refer you to?

2. Past Prospects
Just because a previous prospect didn’t buy from you then, doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you ever. What was the reason they didn’t buy? Has their situation changed? Did they choose a different company, and if so, did they have a good experience? Might they be looking for a new vendor?

3. Past Relationships
It’s easier than ever to lose contact with people we used to know and interact with. Fortunately, it’s also easier than ever to reconnect with people we’ve lost touch with. Reach out via social media or perhaps an old-fashioned phone call or e-mail. Don’t ask about sales opportunities during your initial contact—focus on them. Rebuild the relationship first, then you can ask for introductions or referrals.

You obviously don’t want to dwell on the past, but you should poke around in it every once in a while to see what gems you might be able to mine from it. One little nugget from the past could turn into a huge sale in the future.

Short Attention Spans Aren’t the Problem

January 3rd, 2017

Short Attention Spans Aren’t the ProblemIt seems like every other week I read an article bemoaning the ever-declining length of the human attention span, which apparently is down to 4½ seconds. (Which means you’re no longer even reading this.)

Here’s the thing though: I’ve never been able to find a legitimate study that scientifically documents this supposed decline.

And in fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary: Movie audiences will happily sit in a darkened theater ( or “theatre” in Europe) for up to three hours at a time. People routinely binge watch ten or twelve straight hours of television via Hulu or Netflix. And every new “Harry Potter” book caused millions of kids to worry their parents by refusing to come down to dinner because they were too busy reading.

The problem isn’t that we have shorter attention spans than ever before, it’s that we have a lower tolerance for being bored.

Which means if people aren’t reading your articles, listening to your sales presentations or watching your videos, it’s not because people don’t have sufficient attention spans, it’s because your stuff sucks.

The reality is, if your stuff is awesome, people will pay attention to it.

So how do you make your stuff awesome?

Know your audience
Define your ideal client: age, sex, job title, industry, location, marital status, income, etc. Write or record specifically for them.

Focus on what they care about
Nobody cares about you. Everybody cares about themselves. So talking about your company, product or service is boring. Talking about your prospects’ wants, needs, problems, goals, fears and dreams is engaging.

Get help
If you’re not a naturally gifted writer or charismatic presenter, you’re not doomed to bore people forever. Just get the help you need to come across better, whether that means an editor, a presentation coach, a professional writer, a graphic designer, a spokesperson, or someone else who can help you shine.

The attention of prospective buyers is one of the most valuable commodities for any business or salesperson. And because the competition for that attention is more intense than ever before, people can be choosier about where they devote it.

But they will devote it, if they’re interested enough. Short attention spans aren’t the problem—the quality of your content is. Make your stuff more compelling and you’ll get more attention. And more sales.

Seven Business Failures You Can Learn From

December 27th, 2016

Seven Business Failures You Can Learn FromFailure leads to success, if you learn from it. But what’s better than learning from your failures? Learning from someone else’s failures!

Listen in as Jeff Shuey (Chief Evangelist at K2), Andrea Waltz (author of Go For No), Stewart Rogers (Director of Marketing Technology for VentureBeat), Finka Josie Jerkovic (Leadership Empowerment Coach), Yared Akalou (Design Strategist) and I join Michele Price (The Growth Hacking CMO) on Breakthrough Radio. As the seven of us discuss our biggest failures of 2016 and what we learned from them, you’ll pick up some valuable insights you can profit from in your own business or sales career.

The complete show is two hours long, so you’ll probably want to download it to your favorite mobile device.

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.

What was your biggest failure this past year? And what did you learn from it? Share in the comments section below!

Are You Using This Powerful Word Enough?

December 13th, 2016

Are You Using This Powerful Sales Word Enough?Words have power. And some words have more power than others. Some of the most powerful words you can use in your sales and marketing efforts include “free,” “proven,” and “you.”

There is one word, however, that is not just extremely powerful, it’s also highly versatile—giving you multiple opportunities to leverage its power to increase your sales. What’s the word?


“Only” is unique in that it works three ways:

First, it conveys scarcity of opportunity.
• “We only have two left in stock.”
• “They are only available for three months out of the year.”
• “We only accept six new clients a month.”

Scarcity creates desire and urgency, because people fear missing out. As a result, “only” encourages buyers to act now rather than waiting.

Second, it denotes exclusivity of a feature, function or benefit.
• “This is the only product that . . .”
• “This is the only service that also . . .”
• “We are the only company that . . .”
• “We are the only authorized . . .

Exclusivity is a selling point. People invariably want the best and exclusivity is associated in our minds with the best. Additionally, people like to feel that they are members of a select group, and the word “only” promises that feeling.

Third, it acts as a minimizer.
• “You only need to . . .”
• “Only three easy payments . . .”
• “Your investment is only . . .”

“Only” has the power to make numbers seem smaller. For example, psychologists have proven that people perceive “only $25” to be less than simply “$25.” The word “only” implies that the price could be—and in fact, should be—more, but isn’t, creating the impression of savings. For that reason, whenever you’re stating a price—whether verbally or in print—be sure to precede it with “only.”

There you have it. One word, three ways to use it to boost your sales. Are you taking full advantage of it?

Five Myths that Jeopardize Your Sales

December 6th, 2016

Five Myths that Jeopardize Your SalesThe world is full of myths, and the field of sales has its share. But while myths can be entertaining—and even instructional—they can be dangerous if taken seriously.

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this segment, I do what a heretic does best, debunking five common myths that are likely costing you sales. You’ll also discover insights and tactics that will enable you to boost your sales quickly, ethically and profitably!

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

Eleven Ways to React When You Lose the Sale

November 29th, 2016

Eleven Ways to React When You Lose the SaleEveryone loses a sale now and again. It’s the nature of selling. Heck, in my career I’ve lost more sales than I can count.

But the way you react to losing a sale impacts how well you do on your next sales opportunity. And all your future opportunities.

With that in mind, here are eleven different ways you might react to losing a sale:

1. Bitch about it to anyone who will listen

2. Quit work early and go get drunk

3. Blame everyone and everything else

4. Get terribly depressed

5. Bemoan how stupid the buyer is

6. Curse your deity of choice

7. Give up

8. Complain to your boss that you can’t compete because your product/service isn’t good enough and/or it’s too expensive

9. Accept it and move on

10. Congratulate the buyer, wish them success, and let them know you’d still love to serve them in the future

11. Analyze your actions to determine if there’s anything you could do differently or better next time

Each of these is an understandable reaction. But only three are useful to you. And only two of those will help you close more sales in the future. I’ll let you figure out which those are. You’re pretty smart.

How to Prospect Profitably

November 22nd, 2016

High-Profit ProspectingIf you want more sales, odds are you need more prospects. But there’s more to prospecting than just raw numbers. And that trips up a lot of salespeople.

“Prospecting is not a complex process,” asserts Mark Hunter in the first chapter of his new book, High-Profit Prospecting. “It’s simply finding people who can and will buy from you.” Like so many things in life though, simple does not mean easy. And in this well-written book, Hunter elaborates on the prospecting challenges that today’s salespeople face.

The decline of the telephone and the emergence of email and other communication tools did not cause the evolution of prospecting. Rather, what caused it to change is a shift in knowledge. When I was prospecting twenty-five years ago, I had all the knowledge about my product—if the customer wanted to know anything, they needed me. Today the customer has the knowledge, and….the ability to choose from any number of options and companies. The customer now has the ability to ignore you, the salesperson. If and when they’re ready to buy, they often can make the purchase online without ever contacting a salesperson. The evolution of prospecting is not due to the number of communication methods available, but rather to the shift in who has the knowledge.

Hunter argues—and I agree—that in order to succeed in this new reality, salespeople need to combine some of the tried-and-true methods of the past with new digital tactics in an effort to deliver value and build confidence from the first contact on.

To that end, Hunter shares a wide variety of tactics you can use to improve every aspect of your prospecting, from planning to execution, including:

• 7 Things Motivated People Do to Stay Motivated
• 9 Places to Look for Prospects
• How to Tailor Your Prospecting Plan to Your Market
• 6 Ways to Separate Prospects from Suspects
• 10 Ways to Get a Phone Number
• How to Get Past the Gate-Keeper
• 10 Best Practices for Prospecting With the Telephone
• 11 Rules for Leaving a Great Voice-Mail
• How to Prospect with Social Media

Hunter also includes sample phone scripts, e-mail templates, and more, so you don’t have to struggle to figure out what to say. Simply adapt his words to your product or service!

Another element of this book that I love is its emphasis on profitability. (As you might expect of a book entitled High-Profit Prospecting.) Hunter makes an excellent point:

The type of leads you get will determine the price you get. If you’re not getting the price you want…the problem might be your prospecting process and specifically whom you’re targeting in that process.

Prospecting is not about going after whoever will talk with you or whoever you get routed to. Prospecting is about focusing your efforts toward the person(s) with the greatest potential to deliver not just a sale, but also a sale at maximum price.

With this in mind, Hunter discusses the differences between the “tactical buyer” and the “strategic buyer.” And the ideas he lays out all focus on reaching and working with the people who will value everything you bring to the table, rather than price-buyers.

High-Profit Prospecting is a book that lives up to its name. It’s easy to read, practical, and comprehensive. It will help you acquire not just more prospects, but more quality prospects. Which means not just more sales, but more profitable sales.

Six Things to Stop Doing to Boost Your Sales

November 9th, 2016

Six Things to Stop Doing to Boost Your SalesA lot of sales advice focuses on things you should be doing. But equally important to know are the things you shouldn’t be doing. Like what, you ask?

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Radio with Michele Price. In this segment, I share six specific things you’re doing that are sabotaging your sales efforts. Cut these things out and you’ll achieve better results almost immediately!

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