Are You Scary Enough?

July 2nd, 2018

Are-You-Scary-EnoughMost of the time, we salespeople want to be warm, friendly, and caring. We want to be liked and well-received. But warm and fuzzy doesn’t always get the job done. Sometimes, we need to be scary.

Because sometimes prospects don’t appreciate the dangers of not acting. Other times, they’re afraid of the wrong thing.

In situations like that, it’s our job to scare them straight.

What should your prospect really be afraid of? What are the dangers of not acting? Or delaying action? Or buying too cheap? Or buying from the wrong company?

You can use fear to your advantage by educating your prospect about risks they may or may not be aware of, and how you can reduce or eliminate those risks. Much has been written about the fact that the human brain tends to underestimate genuine risks and overestimate unlikely risks. So odds are, your prospect needs you to help them gain the right perspective on the various risks they face in their lives and businesses.

Stoking fear about a legitimate risk is a valid—and often necessary—sales tactic. And there are a lot of fears you can stoke. Including:

• Missing out
• Their competitor gaining an advantage
• Downtime
• Losing sales
• Making a mistake
• Wasting money
• Being the victim of a crime
• Running out
• Image being tarnished
• Price going up
• Health problems
• Their current model breaking down
• Employee turnover
• Failure
• Being left behind
• Interest rates rising
• Clowns (just making sure you’re paying attention)
• Liability
• Tragedy befalling a loved one
• Death

This is not to say that fear should be the first sales tool you pull out of your toolbox. And to frighten someone needlessly is unethical of course. But used strategically, tapping into a buyer’s fears can motivate them to action when nothing else can.

All buying is emotional at its core. And fear is a powerful emotion. It can block the sale or it can trigger the sale. Which one is up to you.

19 Ways to Follow Up Without Being a Pest

June 19th, 2018

19 Ways to Follow Up Without Being a PestYou already know that effective follow up is crucial to closing sales. But how can you follow up with prospects without annoying them to the point where they scream, “Leave me alone!”

The key is to deliver value in your follow up efforts. Provide your prospects with information, entertainment, or other items of value to them. For example:

1. Send a thank you note

2. Inform them of upcoming sales or promotions

3. Send new product, service, or feature announcements

4. Invite them to enter contests

5. Send a funny postcard or video

6. Send a gift card

7. Invite them to your customer appreciation events

8. Send articles, special reports, white papers, or eBooks that you’ve written

9. Send links to articles or videos that would be of interest to them

10. Send your newsletter or e-zine (with their permission)

11. Invite them to a seminar you’re hosting

12. Invite them to an industry event you’re sponsoring

13. Invite them to a networking event you’re attending

14. Offer to introduce them to other people in your network

15. Send links to web sites and blogs they would find interesting

16. Inform them of industry news and updates

17. Send them free samples

18. Set up Google Alerts and congratulate them on accomplishments

19. Follow and interact with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter

All of these are items your prospects would welcome. Which means that each of these touchpoints not only puts your name in front of them, they each build credibility, likeability, and appreciation.

Pick a few of these tactics and incorporate them into your follow up routine. You’ll distinguish yourself from your competitors, strengthen the connection with your buyer, and boost your sales.

What Do They Need YOU For?

June 5th, 2018

What Do They Need YOU For? Sales has changed.

These days, buyers can get virtually anything they want online. And not just consumers, but business, government, and educational buyers as well. Which brings up an important question:

What do buyers need you for?

If you don’t have at least one good answer at the ready, you have a problem.

Because if you’re not enhancing the buying or ownership experience, your potential customers will simply cut you out. If you don’t add value for them, you’re just dead weight.

So what’s your value? What are your strengths, skills, and talents? How can you help your prospects and customers?

• Are you a facilitator, who can help multiple people in the buying process talk effectively with each other to determine their needs, issues, and options, and then reach a consensus?

• Are you a translator, who can communicate highly technical concepts in ways that laymen can clearly understand them?

• Are you an industry expert, who can alert your customers to new opportunities and threats in their industry?

• Are you a great listener, who can be a sounding board for prospects who need to process verbally?

• Are you a financial genius, who helps prospects figure out ways they can save money? Or make more?

• Are you an investigator, asking powerful questions that cause prospects to think of things they haven’t considered?

• Are you a business guru, with knowledge about sales, marketing, finance, HR, or leadership that your clients don’t have? (And love when you share it with them?)

• Are you a catalyst, who inspires, encourages, and enables others to get things done?

• Are you a connector, who can introduce prospects to others in your vast network who they would find valuable to know?

• Are you an analyst, who can help customers identify, understand, and solve problems?

• Are you a researcher, who regularly shares information on a wide variety of subjects with prospects and clients?

• Are you a trainer, who can educate your customers about your industry, their industry, or other subjects vital to them?

• Are you a math whiz, who can help those who struggle with the subject crunch numbers?

• Are you a consultant, who can help new customers get the most out of the products and services they buy?

If all you do as a salesperson is recite features and benefits, I don’t need you. I can get that from a brochure or web site. What can you do over and above that? That’s the value you bring to the table. And that’s a big reason why prospects should—and will—buy from you.

Twelve Ways to Screw Up a Handshake

May 30th, 2018

Twelve Ways to Screw Up a HandshakeShaking hands is such a sales basic that it’s amazing how often people get it wrong. And a bad handshake doesn’t just start a relationship off on the wrong foot (so to speak)—it can haunt you forever. Because people remember bad handshakes. A poor handshake can even cost you the sale.

What exactly constitutes a bad handshake? Here are twelve mistakes to avoid.

1. The Wet Noodle
A limp handshake conveys a lack of confidence and competence. And it just plain feels icky. Put some life in your wrist and fingers.

2. The Vise
This is the opposite approach—the death grip. It’s a blatant attempt to assert dominance. After being on the receiving end of one of these, most people will avoid you at all costs.

3. Hand over top
This is a more subtle way to assert dominance. By using an overhand grip, you force the other person to use an underhand one, which is ever-so-subtly submissive. Which can make them feel uncomfortable and trust you less Instead, offer your hand with your palm to the side. Or extend your hand in an underhand fashion, giving them the opportunity to be in the dominant position. It will make them feel more comfortable and confident.

4. Double hand
Using both your hands to completely enclose theirs is a classic politician’s move. Which is exactly why you should never do it. It reeks of fake sincerity.

5. Grabbing the arm or shoulder
Another common political tactic. Using the left hand to touch the forearm, upper arm, or shoulder is supposed to engender rapport, but unless you already know the person well, it typically feels like an invasion of their space. Keep your left hand out of the shaking process altogether. (Its feelings won’t be hurt.)

6. Pumping
Enthusiasm is great, but vigorously pumping your hand up and down is too much of a good thing. You’re saying hello, not trying to extract water from the ground.

7. Refusing to let go
This is yet another power play. Holding on to their hand well after you should have let go makes people feel trapped. And the message it sends is that you may trap them in other ways.

8. Finger grab
Grasping someone’s fingers instead of their palm signals that you weren’t’ paying attention when you reached for their hand. Which means you probably won’t pay attention in other parts of the sales process. You don’t need to stare at your hand as you extend it, but use your peripheral vision to guide your palm into theirs.

9. Probing
I’ve never personally experienced this, but I’ve heard a lot about it. The other person “probes” your wrist with their index finger. I have no idea why anyone would do this, but apparently some people do, and those who have been on the receiving end describe it as “weird,” “creepy,” and “revolting.”

10. Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact is critical to rapport. Neglecting to make eye contact when shaking hands is detrimental to it. Be sure to look the other person in the eye. Smiling is a good idea too, while you’re at it.

11. Wetness
This is a common problem at networking events. If you’re right-handed, you’ve been holding your drink in your dominant hand, so when you need to use it for a handshake, it’s cold, wet, and clammy. The solution? Hold your drink in your left hand instead. By the way, if you’re one of the 2.8% of the population who suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) keep a handkerchief handy at all times. (Get it? Handy?)

12. Being culturally insensitive
The above guidelines are for America and Canada. Handshake etiquette is different throughout the world. So if you’re traveling, don’t assume everyone shakes hands the same way. In some cultures, people use a very gentle grip as opposed to a firm one. In others, only people of the same sex shake hands. And still other cultures prefer not to shake hands at all. Do your research so you can be respectful. Respect is a tremendous rapport-builder.

Your handshake sets the tone, not just for the immediate encounter with someone, but for your entire relationship with them. Set the right tone with a confident—but not overbearing—handshake. You don’t need to dominate the other person, you need to connect with them. And a courteous, respectful handshake will do precisely that.


Physics and Your Closing Ratio

May 22nd, 2018

Physics and Your Closing RatioEvery sales manager I’ve ever talked with has agreed on one thing: The single biggest challenge salespeople have is closing the deal. There are two reasons closing is such a big problem. One is psychology. The other is physics.


That’s right, physics. Let me explain.

First, the psychology part.

When we’re selling (and especially when we’re closing), we have to deal with two big fears. Fear is a powerful motivator in ways both good and bad, so it’s critical for us to understand how these fears affect us and how to overcome them.

The first is the fear of rejection, a natural fear for most of us. Nobody enjoys being rejected—it bothers all but the thickest-skinned of us. So too often, we don’t make any attempt to close, because if we don’t ask for the sale, we can’t be rejected.

The key to subduing this fear is to remember three things:

1. The prospect wants and/or needs what we’re selling.

2. A sales rejection is not a personal rejection.

3. If the prospect says no, we’re no worse off than before.

The second fear is more pernicious because we’re typically not even aware of it. Most of us are afraid of being perceived as the stereotypical “salesperson” so commonly portrayed in popular culture: pushy, rude, slimy, underhanded, obnoxious.

Because we (subconsciously) fear being perceived as this stereotype, all too often we don’t really try to close the prospect. But closing is a critical part of the sales process, arguably 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 overcoming this fear: understand that prospects need you to close them. Why? Physics!

The prospect is sitting there (or possibly 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.

However, the Law of Inertia continues: “unless acted upon by an outside force.” That’s us! We need to be the outside force that acts upon our prospects to change their state. It doesn’t need to be a BIG force, however. It can be a gentle nudge.

So don’t think of closing as pushing the prospect into doing something they don’t want to do. Instead, think of it as nudging the prospect just enough to move them out of their inertia and into action.

When you think of it in these terms, closing is not at all pushy, rude, slimy or obnoxious. In fact, assuming this purchase really is in the best interest of the prospect, then not closing is a disservice to them, because it’s preventing them from enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

Remember, it’s not the prospect’s job to ask us to sell them our stuff. (Left to their own devices, they often won’t, due to that pesky inertia.) Instead, it’s our job to ask them to buy it. And they need us to do it. After all, we’re only battling fear. They’re battling physics.

Up Your Listening Game to Boost Your Sales

May 8th, 2018

Up Your Listening Game to Boost Your SalesWe tend to think of talking as the most important element of communicating, and thus, the most important element of sales, leadership, relationships, etc. But communication is a two-way street, and as Tony Alessandra points out in his book, Charisma, “When you want to win someone’s confidence, listening is just as important as speaking. Good listening draws people to you; poor listening causes them to drift away.”

Listening allows you to relax, compose your thoughts, and gather valuable information. And effective listening relaxes the other person, builds rapport, and makes it easier to persuade. Whether you are networking, selling, negotiating, or simply having a casual conversation, listening effectively will help you have a more pleasant and more productive experience.

Keep these principles in mind when listening to others:

See Eye to Eye
When someone is speaking to you it is imperative that you maintain good eye contact with them. Looking at something else sends the non-verbal message that whatever you are looking at is more important than the speaker is. So for Pete’s sake, don’t look at your cell phone every three minutes. An additional benefit for you is that by looking at the speaker, you can pick up on their non-verbal signals, which will help you better understand what they really are (and are not) saying.

Use Your Body
The way your body is positioned can make a big difference in your conversation. Slumping or leaning back in your chair implies boredom or indifference. Instead, lean toward the other person to indicate interest. If you are standing, especially at a networking event, stand at an angle to the other person rather than face to face. This position will allow you to easily hear each other in a crowded room while still giving both of you plenty of personal space in front of you. This “open” body posture also makes it easier and more inviting for additional people to join your networking conversation.

Make Faces
Facial expressions give people a visual cue that you are listening to them. Smiling, frowning, raising your eyebrows, and other facial reactions send a strong signal that you are following what is being said.

Add Sound Effects
Verbal reactions are the auditory equivalent of facial expressions. Words and phrases such as really, oh no, you’re kidding, fantastic, right, uh-huh, and yeah provide a different type of sensory feedback to reinforce the message that you are listening. (Want to expand your verbal repertoire? Check out 59 Ways to Agree with Your Customer.)

Restrain Yourself
The temptation to interrupt people can be overwhelming at times. Let’s face it—we all love to talk. But giving someone our undivided attention and allowing them to speak without fear of interruption is so powerful in building rapport, that it behooves us to exercise restraint. You can, however, use the next three strategies to get a word in edgewise while keeping the conversational focused on the other person.

Question Authority
Asking questions is a sure-fire way to demonstrate interest in the person you are talking with. Asking for clarification, for more details, or even advice (if appropriate; avoid the “Hey Doc, I’ve got this pain…” syndrome), encourages the speaker to continue and communicates that they have an appreciative audience.

Put It Another Way
Repeating the speaker’s ideas in your own words will help ensure that you heard what was actually meant. Paraphrasing also signals the speaker that you want to be sure you understand what they are saying.

Emphasize Empathy
Mentioning that you have had an experience similar to what the speaker has described can help to create rapport, because you have something in common. But claiming that your experience was better, worse, faster, slower, cheaper, or more expensive can be counter-productive, because it can make the speaker feel less significant. Focus on the similarities of your stories, not the differences. Remember, you are engaging in a conversation, not a competition.

If you are sincere in your desire to hear what others have to say, it will have a dramatic impact on your sales, as well as all your other business and personal interactions. As Mark Twain once noted, “We despise no source that can pay us a pleasing attention.”

Is a Leads Group Right for You?

May 2nd, 2018

Is a Leads Group Right for You?If you’re looking for new prospects, referrals are your best source. A person who is referred to you is five times as likely to buy from you as any other type of prospect because they already have some trust in you based on their friend who referred them. So how can you get more referrals? A leads group is one powerful way, although it’s not appropriate for everyone.

First, a quick explanation. Leads groups, which go by various names (referral groups, tip clubs, resource groups), exist for the sole purpose of providing referrals to members of the group. Some have a fee while others don’t. They may be non-profit or for-profit. Members are expected to generate leads for other members on a regular basis. Meetings are typically weekly or bi-weekly over breakfast or lunch. Members have the opportunity to share with other members details about their business and sometimes there may be guest speakers.

So is a leads group right for you? Maybe. Consider the following before saying yes or no:

Your Business
What kind of business are you in? Is it one that has a large potential market or are you highly specialized? The more widely needed your product or service is, the better you will fare in a leads group. People who do particularly well include real estate agents, attorneys, chiropractors, printers, florists, caterers, automobile salespeople, dentists, hair stylists, couriers, computer consultants, accountants, insurance agents, advertising specialties dealers, collection agents, bankers, financial consultants, gift basket makers, graphic designers, web developers, movers, photographers, travel agents, and veterinarians.

Is the group’s meeting time and meeting date (not to mention meeting location) convenient for you? Can you be on time for meetings or will it be just one more hassle in your schedule? Will you be able to fit the time for the meetings into your weekly calendar without making too big of a sacrifice elsewhere?

Can you make the group’s meetings consistently? Most groups are serious and require a real commitment on your part. Members can be expelled for missing too many meetings or not providing enough referrals. As someone who constantly travels around the country delivering seminars and keynote speeches, I can’t belong to a leads group because there is no way I can attend regularly. Will your schedule allow you to make meetings on a regular basis or will it set you up for frustration?

Current Members
Who’s already in the group? If there is someone there who does what you do, you typically will not be allowed to join, since most groups limit membership to one company per industry, e.g. one lawyer, one printer, one florist, one insurance agent, etc. This way, members aren’t forced to choose who to give their leads to. Even if there isn’t someone who does exactly what you do, there may be one or more people who have some crossover. Your ideal group will contain members whose businesses complement yours. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, a group that has a florist and a caterer is a perfect fit for you.

How big is the group? If it’s too small, not enough leads will get passed. If it’s too large, you may feel that you can’t know everyone and they can’t know you very well. Somewhere between 15 and 35 members is where most groups tend to find the most success. Keep in mind that a small group can grow and a large group can experience falloff. Also, with a small group, you can recruit as members people you already know, trust and want to refer.

Every group has its own “house rules” that govern fees, meeting attendance, number of leads that must be contributed, who gets in the spotlight, and many other issues. There’s no right or wrong, and what works for one group may not work for another. The important question is, do you agree with the group’s policies? Since you’ll have to abide by them, it’s important to find a group whose rules you fully support.

As in, do you have any? Like most other sales and marketing tools, leads groups take time to provide results. If you expect to get lots of leads right away, you’re in for a disappointment. It takes several weeks for other members to get a good feel for you and to remember you effectively enough to notice prospective customers for you.

Existing Referral Sources
Do you already get a lot of referrals from friends and clients? If so, then the additional time required for a leads group may not be worth it for you. And if you already have a network of friends that you refer business to, you may not want to join a group because you’ll have to start sending those leads somewhere else. But if the above two items are not the case for you, then a leads group may well be an excellent investment of your time and energy. An investment that can return a steady stream of high-quality prospects for you.

One Thing You Should NEVER Do with a Prospect

April 25th, 2018

One Thing You Should NEVER Do with a ProspectThe tall, gangly man wore an old t-shirt and cutoff jean shorts. His long black hair hung unkempt halfway down his back. And he arrived at the luxury car dealership on a bicycle. The veteran salespeople knew better than to waste their time with him. They sent the rookie out to deal with him.

The man was rock star, Alice Cooper.

And he bought not one, but two top-of-the-line vehicles from the fortunate sales rookie. Who received not only a nice commission, but also a valuable sales lesson: Never judge a prospect on their appearance.

I hear similar stories all the time from attendees in my seminars and workshops: experienced salespeople who mistakenly assume a particular person isn’t a buyer because of how they look, sound, or act.

It’s a habit most of us get into at some point in our sales careers. We only have so much time, and we want to spend it with people who are most likely to buy. So we ignore anyone who doesn’t seem to measure up at first glance.

But that’s a terrible habit. Because first impressions can be dangerously misleading. You may have a clear idea of who your ideal buyer is, based on years of experience, but that doesn’t mean that anyone who doesn’t fit that profile isn’t also a potential buyer. Prospects come in all ages, sizes, genders, colors, ethnicities, and abilities. And if you make a snap judgement that they aren’t a buyer because of circumstantial information, you’ve already lost the sale.

How do you avoid making this deadly mistake?

1. Assume all prospects are buyers.
Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Make them feel important and appreciated.

2. Engage them.
Ask questions. Learn about their needs, wants, concerns, budget, and so on. If they aren’t a good prospect for you, a few questions will uncover that pretty quickly.

3. Help them.
If they’re a good fit for your product or service, proceed to the next step in your sales process. If they’re not right for you (and vice versa), help them anyway. They’re still people with needs. Provide them with information; suggest alternatives; recommend competitors. The goodwill you create may lead to referrals. Or this particular individual may become a customer of yours in the future.

Looks can be deceiving. But don’t let yourself be deceived. Because it will cost you sales. Just because a buyer doesn’t look like your ideal prospect doesn’t mean they can’t become a great customer. But if you treat them like they can’t, then they won’t.

Remember: Buyers don’t need to impress you. You need to impress them.

Eight Ways to Make Your Sales Meetings More Valuable

April 19th, 2018

Eight Ways to Make Your Sales Meetings More ValuableIn my seminars and workshops, one of the most frequent complaints I hear from salespeople is that regular sales meetings are a waste of their time. Unproductive sales meetings not only drain the morale of your sales team, they can actually cost you sales, because your people are sitting in a meeting room rather than actually selling.

I’m not saying you should abandon your regular sales meetings, just make them more valuable to your salespeople. Here are some ideas for turning your sales meetings into can’t-miss events:

1. Prepare Yourselves for Objections
Your salespeople already know the objections that always seem to come up, so deal with them ahead of time. Each meeting, bring up a common objection. Spend ten or fifteen minutes brainstorming answers to it. Choose the best, then role-play the objection and response so everyone can practice in the safety of your meeting room. Have the group critique each person, providing both positive and constructive feedback.

2. Dissect Your Competition
Collect your competitors’ sales and marketing literature. At least a week before your meeting, give a salesperson the information from one of the companies. Have the person deliver a presentation on the strengths and weaknesses of the company or one of its products or services. Then discuss how best to sell against them. Have a different salesperson review another company (or another specific product or service) each meeting.

3. Practice Your Introductions
Discuss ideas for effective fifteen, thirty, and sixty-second introductions. Practice them each meeting, so salespeople can recite them smoothly and easily at networking functions.

4. Tackle Challenges
Allow each person to share some challenge they’re experiencing, whether in general or with a specific situation. Spend a set number of minutes brainstorming ways to overcome it.

5. Share Success Stories
Give everyone an opportunity to share good news, an accomplishment, a discovery, a new tactic, or anything else positive. Celebrate everything with prizes, candy or at the least, wild applause.

6. Make Commitments
Have each person make some kind of commitment. Record them all and follow up on each commitment the following meeting. Again, reward people who follow through on the commitment they made.

7. Bring in an Expert
A professional speaker or sales trainer can help your salespeople dramatically improve their skills at prospecting, qualifying, presenting, overcoming objections, negotiating, closing, asking for referrals, and more. It’s an investment that can pay massive dividends.

8. Hear from a Customer
Invite one of your clients to join you to act as a one-person focus group. Ask them about their experiences with your company and encourage them to be brutally honest. You’ll likely be surprised by what you hear, both negative and positive.

In addition to the above strategies, ask your sales team what they would find valuable. Incorporate as many ideas as possible and you’ll increase your participation rate, your team’s enthusiasm and as a result, your sales!

Customer Service By the Bucketful

April 11th, 2018

Customer Service By The BucketfulJames Saucedo isn’t a salesperson. But most salespeople could learn a thing or two from him.

James drives a shuttle van for the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Austin, Texas. I had the pleasure of riding in his van when I flew into Austin not long ago. Just before he pulled the van away from the airport, he turned in his seat, handed me a metal bucket, and asked, “Would you care for a snack?” In the bucket was an amazing assortment of granola bars, cookies, and candy bars.

As I gratefully munched on some peanut butter cups, I asked him about the bucket. He explained that he often picks up Delta flight crews late at night. They’re typically tired and hungry, but the hotel restaurant closes fairly early, and there is nothing else close by. So he got a bucket and filled it with snacks. Using his own money. And he still does.

Naturally, people who ride in his van leave him glowing ratings. (Talk about creating a positive first impression!)

And you can just imagine what it does for his tips.

How can you surprise, delight, and impress your customers? This is a question not only you, but everyone in your organization should be asking constantly.

James Saucedo isn’t a salesperson. But he’s definitely increasing his company’s sales.

Eleven Mistakes that Torpedo Your Trade Show Sales

March 20th, 2018

Eleven Mistakes that Torpedo Your Trade Show SalesTrade shows are a vital component of many companies’ marketing mix. From general shows to specialty functions; tiny, local shows to gigantic, international affairs; consumer shows to industry events, trade shows are a 13 billion dollar-a-year industry in the U.S. alone.

And sadly, much of that money is wasted. Because a tremendous number of organizations make a variety of mistakes that sabotage their chances for success at the shows they exhibit at. (And then they complain that trade shows don’t produce results.)

What kinds of mistakes do they make? Here are eleven for you to learn from and avoid.

1. Failing to plan
A successful trade show experience doesn’t just happen. It requires weeks—or even months—of careful planning. But too many organizations wait until the last minute and just throw things together. That’s a recipe for disaster.

2. Sending too few people
A lot of organizations view trade shows as expenses, and as a result, they make a concerted effort to keep costs down. One of the ways they do that is by sending as few people as possible. Which is exactly the opposite of what smart organizations do. Savvy companies understand that a trade show is an investment, and to maximize the return on that investment, they need to send as many people as possible. Because the more people staffing your exhibit, the more attendees they can engage with.

3. Neglecting to differentiate
It’s easy for a buyer to forget who’s who at a show. So many of the exhibits look alike. So many of the products and services appear to be similar. And so many of the words, phrases, and sentences spoken by the booth staffers are identical. If you’re not different, you’re not memorable.

4. Doing no pre-show marketing
If you don’t do any marketing before the show, you’re betting on every attendee passing by—and seeing—your exhibit. Which is okay if you happen to be positioned right at the show entrance. But if your booth space is literally anywhere else, there’s a good chance a large number of attendees will never walk past your exhibit. Or will be looking at something else—easy to do at a show—when they do walk by. Marketing to the list of registered attendees in advance of the show increases your chances of getting them to your booth. Which is why you’re exhibiting in the first place.

5. Not training for the show
Selling on a show floor is different from selling in any other situation. As such, the people who represent your company need specialized training to be effective at the show. Yet not enough organizations provide such training for their people, leading to poor show results.

6. Ignoring visitors
Getting attendees to stop in their tracks and give you’re their attention is a challenge. It’s a challenge that must be met actively. And it’s a challenge that many booth staffers fail miserably at. I frequently see booth staff:

• Talking to each other
• Looking around without acknowledging visitors
• Playing with or talking on their cell phone
• Smiling at passing attendees without saying a word
• Reading
• Eating

And how often have you seen a booth at a show completely unattended? All of these behaviors communicate to attendees that they aren’t excited to be there. And if you’re not excited about your business, why should visitors be?

7. Not asking questions
There are typically way more attendees at a show than you can possibly talk with. But not every attendee is your buyer. So you need to separate the people who are your prospects from the people who aren’t. And the fastest, simplest way to do that is to ask visitors questions. But too many booth staffers don’t. Instead, they try to pitch their product or service to every person they can. The problem is, while they’re busy pitching to a person who can’t use their offering, two, three, or four people who could are walking right by.

8. Delivering bad presentations
There’s massive competition for your visitor’s time and attention at a show. Which means your presentation needs to be quick, engaging, and memorable. Droning on and on about boring facts and figures will cause your prospect to mentally check out and get away from you as quickly as possible. And if your presentation isn’t memorable, what’s the point in making it?

9. Giving away the wrong type of prize
When exhibiting at shows, many companies give away a cool prize to encourage people to stop and provide their contact information. And while giving away a TV or a necklace or a gift basket can get you a lot of names, it’s actually counterproductive. You’re at the show to gather prospects. And the first characteristic of a prospect is they have a need for your product or service. If you give away a prize everybody wants, you’re drowning your sales team in names of people who will never buy from you. At best, it wastes their time. At worst, it encourages them not to follow up at all. If you give away something, make it a prize that only your prospects would be interested in.

10. Overlooking small—yet important—details
When it comes to your exhibit, no detail is insignificant. Everything about your display either builds trust in your organization or erodes it. That includes things like:

• Signage
• Lighting
• Carpeting and padding
• Cleanliness
• Staff friendliness
• Photos and videos
• Your marketing message
• Staff knowledge
• Demos

Seemingly tiny details can mean the difference between success and failure.

11. Not following up
While some deals close on the show floor, the vast majority of sales are concluded after the show. Which means follow up is crucial. Yet far too few sales teams bother to follow up on the leads they receive from shows. I’ve given my contact information to hundreds of exhibitors at shows and almost never hear from any. If you’re not actively following up, you almost may as well not go to the show at all.

Trade shows can be one of your most effective marketing tactics. They’re targeted, trackable, flexible, and proven. Avoid the above mistakes by investing in proper planning, staffing, and training, and your next show can be a huge sales success.

Great Thoughts on Sales, Business, and Success X

March 12th, 2018

Great Thoughts on Sales, Business, and Success XEveryone can use a good dose of inspiration and encouragement now and then. I know I certainly can. That’s why I regularly review the brilliant thoughts of others, share hem in my keynote speeches and seminars, and tweet them out daily. Here are some of my current favorites.

“A good ad which is not run never produces sales.”—Leo Burnett

“Perfectionism and profitability are incompatible.”—Fiona Walsh

“Success is something you attract by the person you become.”—Jim Rohn

“You must UNLEARN what you have learned.”—Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”—Helen Keller

“Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”—Satchel Paige

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”—Alice Walker

“Winners build on mistakes. Losers dwell on them.”—Arnold Mori

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”—Bruce Barton

“There’s only one of you, so why would you want to look like everyone else?”—Adele

“Show me the business man or institution not guided by sentiment and service, by the idea that ‘he profits most who serves best,’ and I will show you a man or an outfit that is dead or dying.”—B. F. Harris

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.”—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“As it turns out, now is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”—Lucinda Williams

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves—to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”—Stewart B. Johnson

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”—Henry Ford

“Normal is in the eye of the beholder.”—Whoopi Goldberg

“Everyone is in business for himself, for he is selling his services, labor or ideas. Until one realizes that this is true he will not take conscious charge of his life and will always be looking outside himself for guidance.”—Sidney Madwed

“Thinking small doesn’t serve anyone.”—Sam Horn

“If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.”—Robert H. Schuller

“There are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something.”—Thomas A. Edison

“Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs.”—Marianne Williamson

“There is less to fear from outside competition than from inside inefficiency, discourtesy and bad service.”—Anonymous

“The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native capacities to their greatest extent.”—Dr. Smiley Blanton

“Stop asking for directions so much. Have the nerve to take a wrong turn now and then. You’ll develop better working instincts and have more self-esteem too.”—Marilyn vos Savant

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art of all.”—Andy Warhol

“The dumbest people I know are those who know it all.”—Malcolm Forbes

“Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet.”—Sadie Delany

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.”—Napoleon Hill

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”—Epictetus

“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”—Coco Chanel

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been a statue erected to a critic.” —Jean Sibelius

“Indecision is deciding not to decide. Which is usually the worst possible decision.”—Don Cooper

For more inspirational quotations, check out Great Thoughts on Sales, Business and Success Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV, Volume V, Volume VI, Volume VII, Volume VIII, and Volume IX.

What are some of your favorite quotations? Share them in the comments section below!

Every Purchase is a Compromise

February 28th, 2018

Every Purchase is a CompromiseEvery salesperson wishes they sold the perfect product or service. And some salespeople believe they sell the perfect one. But “perfect” doesn’t exist.

Because the reality is that every purchase we make is a compromise. From food, to clothing, to where we live, to legal representation, everything we buy is a compromise among myriad factors.

Let’s say you’re buying a new computer. Among the tradeoffs involved are:

• Quality
• Screen size
• Portability
• Processor speed
• Memory
• Ease of use
• Customer service
• Price

Or you’re shopping for a new car. There are even more tradeoffs to consider, including:

• Performance
• Cargo capacity
• Passenger capacity
• Exterior styling
• Fuel economy
• Safety
• Handling
• Legroom
• Ride comfort
• Ground clearance
• Color
• Luxury
• Reliability
• Price

Which means, whatever you sell, it represents a compromise for your buyer. And the important question for you is: What is your prospect willing to compromise on and what are they not willing to compromise on?

And the way you determine that is by asking them questions. Lots of questions, to learn their wants, needs, priorities, values, concerns, goals, preferences, fears, budget, and more.

The more you know about your prospect, the easier it is for you to make the case that your product or service—while not perfect—is the best compromise for them.

Seven Dangers of Selling on Price

February 20th, 2018

Seven Dangers of Selling on PriceToo many salespeople—and too many companies, for that matter—rely on the tactic of beating everyone else’s price in order to make the sale. And it’s understandable why: Price is always an issue for buyers, and dropping your price to match—or undercut—a competitor’s price is an easy thing to do, requiring no thought or effort.

But while selling on price may secure you a quick sale or two, it’s extremely dangerous in the long run. Here are seven reasons why.

1. You will always be on the defensive.
No matter how low your price is, somebody out there will beat it. Which means you will always face price pressure on every deal. And you will always have to go lower.

2. You encourage your clients to be disloyal.
If the message you communicate to your buyers is “Price is all that matters,” then they’ll believe you. And the moment a competitor offers them a lower price, they’ll switch. Because that’s what you trained them to do.

3. You will work much harder and for less money.
Lower margins mean less profit and smaller commissions. So you have to close more deals just to survive.

4. You are making yourself obsolete.
The Internet has changed everything. It’s now possible to buy almost anything online without ever interacting with a live human being. If the only thing you’re bringing to the table is a low price, what the hell does a buyer need you for?

5. You are doing a disservice to your customer.
The lowest-price option is not necessarily the best option for a buyer. A good salesperson helps a prospect figure out which product or service will best help them solve their problem or achieve their goal and educates them as to why spending more money is worthwhile for them.

6. Your client may hate you.
If you don’t educate your buyer and simply sell them the cheapest thing, it may not be effective for them. And if the customer isn’t happy, the person they’ll blame is you.

7. You will lose the sale to someone who CAN sell on value.
Study after study has found that price is consistently at or near the bottom of the list of criteria that buyers use to make their purchasing decisions. Which means that a salesperson who can address those other, more important criteria is going to win the deal.

Selling on price may seem like a smart thing to do, but it’s really the opposite. Highlight what makes you better than your competition, justify your higher price, and focus on what will best help your buyer. You may lose an occasional deal with a rare person who is only price-focused, but you’ll more than make up for it with increased sales, higher profits and commissions, and stronger customer loyalty.

Are They Really a Prospect or Are You Just Wasting Time?

February 13th, 2018

Are They Really a Prospect or Are You Just Wasting Time?As a salesperson, business owner, or professional, you only have so much time. And if you want to maximize your sales, you can’t afford to waste that precious time with people who are never going to buy from you.

Which means you need to figure out—as quickly as possible—whether someone is an actual prospect or not. How can you tell? A real prospect has four qualities:

1. A Need
This may seem obvious, but too many people try to sell to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a need. It’s a behavior you frequently see at trade shows, where booth staff try to talk every passerby into checking out their product or service, never even attempting to determine whether or not the attendee might have a need for it. You also see it at networking events, during cold calls, and on LinkedIn. Understand that if someone doesn’t have a need for what you sell, they’re not a prospect!

2. A Budget
Odds are, there are lots of people who have a need—or at least a desire—for what you sell. But not all of them can afford it. The ones who can, are potentially your prospects. They ones who can’t, aren’t. At least not right now. They may acquire the necessary budget in the future, but until then, they aren’t a prospect. If they have some budget, but not quite enough…maybe you can negotiate. Or help them find another financing source. Or recommend a cheaper alternative. But if they have no budget—or your price and their budget are way off—then it’s not going to happen.

3. Authority
Does the person you’re talking with have the authority to make a decision? If they don’t, they’re not the prospect. They might be an influencer, but they aren’t the buyer themselves. It’s easy to spend a lot of time with such a person, because they have a need and the budget to do something about it. But until you can talk with the actual decision-makers, you don’t have a true prospect on your hands.

4. Motivation
The person has a need, a budget, and the authority to make a decision. But do they have the motivation to act? Too often, they don’t. The person may not perceive the problem to be much of an issue. Or they think the problem will go away on its own. Or they may not see the opportunity that you do. Or they may believe other needs are more of a priority. Whatever the case, the person is not motivated to take action, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. This is the hardest person to walk away from, but walking away is precisely what you must do. Because a person lacking motivation is not going to buy.

Sales amateurs treat everyone as a prospect. Sales professionals know there isn’t enough time in the world for that. If you want to make the most of your limited time, you need to focus that time on the people who are actually likely to buy—people with a need, a budget, the authority to make a decision, and the motivation to act. A person who lacks any of these characteristics may be a great ally, information source, or friend, but they aren’t a prospect.

Understand this crucial distinction and make it a point to determine as quickly as possible whether any given contact has all four qualities or not. The less time you spend chasing people who won’t buy, the more time you can spend with people who will.

Why You Should Never Satisfy Customers

February 6th, 2018

Why You Should Never Satisfy CustomersMany companies proudly state that “We want you to be completely satisfied” or “100% customer satisfaction guaranteed” or similar sentiments. And while customer satisfaction seems like a good idea—you don’t want your customers to be upset, after all—it’s actually a recipe for disaster.

Here’s why.

If a customer is “satisfied” with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. It just means they aren’t dissatisfied. That’s a pretty low bar.

A satisfied client is a neutral client. They got what they expected. The experience didn’t suck. Whoopee.

You get no points for doing what was expected. You get no credit for leaving your customer in a neutral state of mind. You’re acceptable. You’re okay. You’re decent.

Which is dangerous. Because a satisfied customer will go to one of your competitors for the slightest reason—a lower price, a new product, a little closer to them, whatever. Often a satisfied customer will try someone else just for the novelty. After all, what have they got to lose? If all they are is satisfied with you, then you’re just an option to them.

A delighted customer, however—a customer who loves you—will stick with you. They’re far less likely to try another company because they already know they’re going to have an exceptional experience with you, and the odds of having a similar experience with your competitor are minuscule.

Which means if you want to boost your customer loyalty, you need to leave your customers more than satisfied. You need to leave them feeling:

• Happy
• Grateful
• Relieved
• Proud
• Delighted
• Cared about
• Excited
• Confident
• Appreciated
• Special
• Thrilled
• Surprised
• Ecstatic

That’s a lot harder to do. Which is why so few companies attempt it. But those that do see stronger customer loyalty, better word of mouth, more sales, and higher profits.

If customer satisfaction is your goal, you’re aiming too low. You can and should do better. It requires more effort, but you’ll reap more rewards. Don’t ever be satisfied with satisfaction.

Twelve Ways to Use Stories to Boost Your Sales

January 30th, 2018

Twelve Ways to Use Stories to Boost Your SalesStories are extremely powerful. They can be both informative and persuasive, while being entertaining. And they’re engaging—neuroscientists have discovered that our brains are hard-wired for stories. (That’s why it’s so hard to walk out of a movie, even if it sucks.)

Are you using stories in your sales and marketing efforts? If not, you’re missing out. Here are twelve ways to leverage the power of stories.

1. Advertisements
Tell short stories in your TV and radio commercials, as well as your print ads. Weave them into your direct mail pieces, email campaigns, and brochures.

2. Your Website
While many company websites have a “Case Studies” section, don’t limit your stories to that one place. Sprinkle them throughout your site. On my website, I share two stories: one that illustrates the degree to which I customize my keynote speeches and seminars, and one that provides an example of the results sales teams get with my training. Those stories make my points far better than merely stating what I do.

3. Your Blog
Your company blog is the perfect place to recount all the stories of how you’ve helped clients. It’s also a perfect repository for stories about how your clients have used your products or services to help their customers.

4. Social Media
Social media was made for telling stories. And you can tell them using text, photos, and video! And social media facilitates the sharing of stories, increasing your reach at no additional cost or effort. Enable all of your employees—not to mention all of your customers—to share their stories on your social media channels. You’ll get more attention, more engagement, and more sales.

5. Networking
If what you do—or what your company does—isn’t immediately understandable, tell a short story to help your new acquaintance “get it.” Keep it very short though—telling a long, drawn-out story is not the way to make a good impression on someone you’ve just met.

6. Trade Shows
Trade shows give you multiple opportunities for storytelling:

• In your pre-show marketing
• On and around your exhibit, via text, photos, and video
• Through live presentations
• During your personal interactions with visitors
• Via your marketing collateral and giveaways

7. On-Hold Recordings
If you have to place a caller on hold, you can subject them to the same song over and over again, you can state repeatedly how important their call is to you (which is annoying as hell), or you can tell them stories. Because stories are entertaining, they make the time seem to pass faster. And because stories are informative, they can answer callers’ questions and give them ideas.

8. Press Releases
The media is constantly looking for stories. And while news outlets may not be interested in how you’ve helped clients, they are interested in how you’ve helped the community. What causes do you support? What issues are you fighting for? What are you doing to improve the lives of people in your neighborhood, region, state, country?

Additionally, your employees have stories of their own. What hardships have they overcome? What lessons have they learned? How are they helping others? All of these are tremendous PR opportunities.

9. Sales Presentations
Buyers don’t want products or services. They want results. So tell them about the results you’ve created for other clients. Share stories about previous clients who had the same challenges or goals that your prospect has, and how your product or service impacted them.

10. Follow Up Calls
Sharing a success story with a prospect can be a great excuse for a follow up call or e-mail: “One of our clients just told us a great story and I wanted to share it with you…”

11. Overcoming Objections
Objections are about fear. And one of the best ways to overcome that fear is to tell your prospect a story about a customer who had the exact same fear. You acknowledge the prospect’s fear so they feel understood and validated, while showing them via the story why they can have confidence in the outcome.

12. Closing
Have a prospect who’s on the fence? Often they just need a little nudge to move them to action. And a story can provide the nudge. Relate two or three stories for even greater impact.

Stories are potent sales and marketing tools. And they’re multi-purpose tools at that. Create a database of stories and actively look for ways to incorporate them in all your sales and marketing efforts. The more stories you tell, the more sales you’ll make.

What the Other Side in a Negotiation Wants

January 23rd, 2018

What the Other Side in a Negotiation WantsEvery sale is a negotiation. Some are short and simple, others are long and complex. But one thing all negotiations have in common is that they’re more than just haggling back and forth about price. Your prospect has a number of physical and emotional needs, and the better you can fill them, the faster you can close the deal.

What are those needs? Well, every buyer wants to:

1. Save money
This is the obvious one. And it’s the one that gets salespeople in trouble, because we tend to focus too much on it. It’s important to remember two things, however:

A) Saving money means more than just the purchase price. It also includes accessories, supplies, maintenance, financing, and more. How can you help your buyer save money on the things related to the purchase.

B) The other items on this list are just as important—if not more important—than money. How can you satisfy these other needs?

2. Get the best terms
Fast delivery. Staggered delivery over a longer period of time so they don’t have to store items. Being able to finance rather than pay up front. Priority service. Regular maintenance. Upgrades. Consulting or training. There are lots of things that can add value to a deal. What can you provide that your buyer values?

3. Save time
Negotiating takes time and time is money. Also, the longer the negotiation takes, the longer the prospect has to wait before seeing the benefits of your product or service. How can you speed things along?

4. Reduce risk
Every purchase is a commitment and every commitment carries risk. We all hate risk and want to avoid it whenever possible. Warranties, guarantees, free trials, testimonials, case studies, contracts, and training can all reduce risk for your buyer. Which can you use?

5. Look good
Most buyers have someone they need to report to, whether it’s a spouse, a boss, or shareholders. And they need to be able to make the case to those people that they made a good decision. They’re being judged on the deal they made, and they dread being berated like Jack’s mother yelling at him for trading the family cow for some magic beans. How can you make your prospect look good in the eyes of the people they have to account to?

6. Feel good
You relationship with your customer depends largely on how they feel after the negotiation is finished. Everyone wants to feel like they got a good deal. But people also want to feel important, special, cared about, valued, appreciated. The more they feel that way, the more likely they are to refer you to others. And future negotiations become faster and easier. How can you make your buyers feel good about the company, the buying process, and the deal they got?

Negotiating—like everything else in the sales process—is about people more than products. Understand that buyers have a variety of needs and wants, and that you can fulfill many of them with little effort and little to no cost. When you address both your prospect’s physical and emotional needs, you pave the way to a faster, smoother, more successful negotiation. That means more sales and happier customers. Which is exactly what you want.

13 Things You Need to Hate In Order to Succeed In Sales

January 16th, 2018

13 Things You Need to Hate In Order to Succeed in SalesLove is great and everything, what with it being a many-splendored thing, and conquering all, and making the world go round. And in fact I’ve discussed previously the value of love in your sales efforts.

But hate is also a powerful emotion. And it has its place in sales as well. Here are thirteen things it is perfectly okay for you to hate:

1. Losing
2. Wasting time
3. Lying
4. Manipulative, high-pressure sales tactics
5. Being bored
6. Missed opportunities
7. Seeing people being disrespected or treated badly
8. Excuses
9. Not knowing things
10. Seeing people being taken advantage of
11. Being late
12. Letting people down
13. Complacency

Note that one item that’s not on this list is “Your Competition.” That’s because you shouldn’t hate them. As a general rule, you should like and respect them. After all, they push you and your company to be better, which benefits your customers.

Hate isn’t always a bad thing. In the right context, it can be a powerful motivator to enhance your knowledge and skills, and better serve your customers. So let your hatred of the above items drive your quest for self-improvement and higher sales. Let’s give hate some love.

Are You Taking Enough Time Off?

January 9th, 2018

Are You Taking Enough Time Off?You’ve set your business and sales goals for the year: a prospecting goal, a closing rate goal, a revenue goal. But have you set a vacation goal? If you haven’t, you absolutely should.

Too many people don’t take enough vacations. One recent study found that 75% of Americans don’t take all of their paid vacation days, while another study found that nearly 42% of Americans don’t take any vacation days.

If you’re in either of those two populations, you’re hurting yourself and your sales.

It’s tempting to think that working more hours makes you more productive and thus, more successful. Yet science has conclusively proven the opposite is actually true. Dozens of studies have discovered that taking vacations:

• Reduces Stress
• Sharpens focus
• Enhances performance
• Sparks creativity
• Creates new perspectives
• Strengthens family relationships
• Boosts physical health
• Improves mental health
• Prevents burnout

Worried that taking more days off will hurt your chances of getting a raise and/or promotion? To the contrary. A study by Project: Time Off found that employees who take all of their vacation time increase their chances of getting promoted and getting a raise by 6.5% versus those who leave 11 or more days of vacation time on the table.

Still not convinced? Okay. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor makes the case for the link between vacations, brain health, and success, concluding: “When the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple.”

All of this means, if you want to make more sales—and more money—you need to take more vacations. So I ask you again, are you taking enough time off?