December 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Eliminate Your Competition by Eric Slife >>
  • How Steve Jobs Hired The Best People by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • The Worst Sales Advice . . . Ever by Tim Wackel >>
  • Unlocking Why Buyers Buy In Five Easy Steps by Roy Chitwood, CSP >>
  • Is Your Prospect Ready For A Sales Call? by Michael Nick >>


Eliminate Your Competition
By Eric Slife

We love you. We love your product, but we decided to go a different direction. This is the equivalent of hearing “Let’s just be friends.” Needless to say, you’re stuck wondering, “What do they have that I don’t have?” The reality is this, whether in dating or selling, if you don’t come across as a better alternative than the competition, you’re going to be awfully lonely.

The inability to truly distinguish your product/service, your company, and/or yourself results in losing to lower priced competition or lowering your price to get the sale. All too often, when I ask someone, “What makes you unique?” I hear the same old, same old – we provide better quality, service, etc. In some cases, I’ve even had reps admit to me there isn’t anything unique about what they sell.

Recently, my 11 year old daughter, Savannah, started her own online business (with a little help from mom and dad). Savannah started making her own line of beauty products: sugar scrubs, lip balms, shampoos, conditioners, etc. Now at face value there isn’t anything unique about these types of products. What is unique is Savannah. Savannah is a very carefree person who loves sports, but also has some girly girl in her. As a result, she has positioned her product to cater to that girl who is active, but also wants to look good. Each product contains a quirky name like: Run Like A Girl, Pre-Game Jitters, and Just Chicked?

I must admit, I was skeptical at first, but in less than a month she has sold products to people all across the United States. Not only do her friends love it, but now their moms are starting to purchase her products.

I realize this seems like a shameless plug, and it is, if you want a great stocking stuffer for your daughter check out my daughter’s website By the way, my 13 year old boy, Jacob, got jealous, so he is now selling cologne on the website called “Wingman.”

The point is, simply stating we provide better quality, service, etc. doesn’t distinguish you from your competition. There is absolutely nothing unique about this because everyone is touting the exact same thing to their prospects. All things being equal, buyers will go with the lowest priced solution especially in this economy.

Here is a little exercise to help you more clearly understand how your advantages solve your customer’s specific issues, and how to differentiate yourself from your competition.

First, you want this to be specific to your prospect, so make sure you understand each issue your prospect has and the results of those issues. The end result could even include how much this issue is costing your prospect. Then list each issue and the end result in the column.

Next, list all the advantages either you, your company, or your product/service possess to help solve this issue. After that, write down the benefits of each advantage and the results of each benefit. You always want to make it about your customer, so write down how your benefit solves your prospect’s issue.

Finally, list how your benefits are different than the competition and why it is an advantage.

One of the biggest mistakes sales people make is stating all the benefits they feel their company possesses, regardless if they pertain to solving their prospect’s issues. Unfortunately, if it doesn’t solve one of your prospect’s issues, they could care less. In fact, they will be saying to themselves, “I’m paying for a bunch of extra stuff, I don’t need.” This will actually hurt your chances. As a result, always be asking “So what?” In fact, I would do this exercise, and then show it to a colleague or manager and see if they agree with your assessment.

Prospect's Issue Poor Service    
Result Of Issue $400 spent in time every month    
Company, Product, Salesperson, Advantage Smaller firm    
Benefit(s) Of Advantage Local, Personalized, Talk with one person, access to president    
Result(s) Of Advantage Immediate help, no red tape, better understanding of client’s needs    
How Does It Solve Prospect's Issue? Save avg of 4 hours every month, No worries or babysitting orders    
How Is It Different From Competition? Call center located in another country that fields service calls    
What Is An Advantage Over Competition? Spend a lot of time and frustration getting answers and resolution to problems    

After you have completed the above exercise, you are now prepared to present how you are unique to your prospect. Keep in mind, even your presentation needs to be different than your competition, so don’t just go stick some canned company brochure in front of your prospect about how great your service is. Once again, everyone else is doing the same thing. You need to paint a picture for your prospect that is all about solving their issues.

For example:

Mr. or Ms. Prospect, you mentioned that service is really important to you because under your current situation you were experiencing…. As a result, this is costing you $400 every month just in your time alone having to resolve issues.

My guess is probably every vendor you speak to will mention what great service they provide. The reality is no matter how good a product or service is, at some point you may need help with something, have a question that needs to be answered, or a problem that needs to be fixed.

Because we are a smaller firm we are able to provide our clients with much more personalized service. First, you will be assigned a specific representative located here in town to handle your account. Our current customers tell us they really prefer only working with one representative because they become extremely familiar with their specific needs, they trust them to resolve issues or get answers immediately, and they are much more knowledgeable. Not only that, our president is personally accessible to all of our clients. I’d compare it to going to a major university in a class of 300 students with a teacher’s assistant teaching the class versus going to a top notch private school with an experienced professor who only has 25 students they are over.

I’d be more than happy to provide you several referrals who can testify to their experience with our service team. In addition, we can schedule a conference call with our service manager, so you are comfortable with how we do more than just say we provide great service.

If you had this type of personalized service compared to your current situation, would that free up your time and eliminate unnecessary headaches?

If you’re a prospect, are you more likely to be impressed with this or, “We have great service”?

Regardless of what you sell, it is critical to understand your advantages and what makes you unique. Sometimes what makes you unique is the sum total of your advantages. By understanding your strengths, you can ask key questions that will help you determine how important your competitive advantages are to your prospect. In addition, you’ll be able to better determine which prospects are most likely to buy from you. As a result, you will much more effectively eliminate your competition.

Don’t forget to visit for some great stocking stuffers. All our readers receive 10% off with the following coupon code: SALESTIP

*In addition, all orders over $10 will receive our program 20 Ways to Differentiate Yourself for FREE.

About the Author: Eric Slife is the President of Slife Sales Training, Inc. They are a leader in providing comprehensive, accessible online training that is extremely affordable. Request a free trial of their program by visiting:

Contact Information:
Eric Slife
Slife Sales Training, Inc.

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How Steve Jobs Hired The Best People
by Jim Meisenheimer

(Note About Author: Our friend Jim is one of our 'go-to' sales trainers that we know will always provide quality training. We are thrilled that Jim has completed his new book Start Selling More Today and Everyday - Using No-brainer Selling Skills. For 1-week you can receive this book for only $.99! Visit to grab your copy before the price goes up next week!)

I just finished an article by Patrick Valtin titled "The Steve Jobs Way."

The article is pretty good. It listed seven attributes a person needed to be hired by Apple.

When I was the vice president of marketing for Baxter International I interviewed 200 sales candidates in one year. I always thought that was pretty impressive.

That was until I learned Steve Jobs personally interviewed more than 5000 applicants during his business career. Now that's truly impressive!

The Apple philosophy was to never compromise on the "Talents and Qualifications" required of their employees.

Here's the seven attributes you need to have if you want to work for Apple:

1. Vision-minded. Simply stated if you wanted to work for Apple you had to know the Apple management vision and agree to support and defend it.

2. Innovation-minded. Apple always looks for people who are innovative and willing to create something from nothing.

3. Future-minded. Employees are focused on creating the future instead of following it.

4. Passion-minded. It's been said that Steve Jobs believed you should "Do what you love." During the interview process you have to demonstrate the love for the company and its products. Plain and simple!

5. Contribution-minded. Apple has never been looking for people who just wanted to retire with a gold watch. They looked for people who defined themselves by what they contributed.

6. Engagement-minded. Most Americans, as many as two thirds, are not engaged in their work. Apple only hires people who are committed to the Apple vision.

7. Excellence-minded. According to the book "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, he was a perfectionist in everything he did. You literally had zero chance of being hired by Apple if you didn't have a passion for excellence.

It's not hard to believe Apple's outrageously successful track record once you consider the qualities they looked for in all of their employees.

I'd like to add three more attributes that salespeople should have. Like the seven above, these are soft skills.

While they may be soft skills they are important and essential to achieving a record of sales excellence.

Here they are:

1. Problem-solver. If salespeople stopped selling and started solving customer problems, their sales would skyrocket. You see, your products and services are solutions to problems. If you're not uncovering and dollarizing customer problems you are not a problem solver.

2. Likable. To succeed in sales I believe you need to be easy to like because you're attractive, pleasant, and genial. People enjoy doing business with people they like - so you have to be likable.

3. Self-motivated. And remember the emphasis is on the word "Self." Being self-motivated gets you going and keeps you going and always striving to over achieve all of your personal and professional goals.

There are no shortcuts to long-term success in your career.

If you don't love what you're doing, why in the world are you doing it?

You can't become the person you're capable of becoming, if you're doing work you don't love.

And finally, it's pretty hard to be likable when you're doing work you don't like.

Jim is a Sales Strategist and is the creator of No-Brainer Selling Skills. He shows salespeople and entrepreneurs how to increase sales, earn more money, have more fun, and how to do it all in less time. His focus is on practical ideas that get immediate results. He offers Advanced Sales Management Workshops, Sales Coaching, Consulting, In-house Sales Training Programs, and a wide variety of Learning Tools i.e. books, special reports, sales manuals, and CDs.Jim Meisenheimer is a member of The National Speakers Association, where he earned the C.S.P. designation, Certified Speaking Professional. He has authored five books including, "The 12 Best Questions To Ask Customers," and the recently published “57 Ways To Take Control Of Your Time And Your Life”.


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The Worst Sales Advice . . . Ever
by Tim Wackel

Over the years I’ve probably heard more than my share of “tips” and “techniques” that were guaranteed to produce results. Frankly most of them never really worked for me. Maybe you recognize a few of these…

#1. Sales is just a numbers game….
Tim’s Translation: If you interrupt enough busy people you’ll eventually find someone not pissed off who will do business with you

#2. Always be closing….
Tim’s Translation: Reaching for their wallet before shaking their hand kinda makes me feel sleazy

#3. Build rapport by mirror and matching….
Tim’s Translation: I’ve got more than I can handle building rapport, adding valuable insights, asking the right questions and taking great notes – I really can’t remember (and don’t care) when you crossed your arms during our meeting

#4. You have to follow our internal sales process….
Tim’s Translation: Really? You want me to force MY customers to follow YOUR process… let me get back to you on that one

#5. Always call high….
Tim’s Translation: Not sure if this tip is effective outside of Colorado and Washington

As I get ready for 2013, I’m cleaning house… tossing old files, pitching unused collateral and “shredding” anything that is useless… and I’m asking you to join me. What’s the worst sales advice that you’ve heard? I’d love to collect ideas and I’m going to give away a brand new shredder to the person who shares the best “worst” tip.

Submit your tip on Tim's website - click here.

Tim Wackel

Tim Wackel is hired by sales executives who want their teams to be more successful at blowing the number away. Tim’s “no excuses” programs are insightful, engaging and focused on providing real world strategies that salespeople can (and will!) implement right away. Sales teams from BMC Software, Cisco, Fossil, Hewlett Packard, Allstate, Thomson Reuters, Raytheon, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Catalina Marketing, Philips Medical Systems, Red Hat and TXU Energy count on Tim to help them create more success in business and in life.

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Unlocking Why Buyers Buy In Five Easy Steps
by Roy Chitwood, CSP

What makes people decide to buy?

It's a mystery that anyone who wants to sell a product, service or idea must solve if they want to be successful.

It's my belief, however, that the only way to crack the code of the buyer's decision-making process is to understand the "hidden agenda" that every buyer has.

Most salespeople think they understand how people buy. This thought process usually reflects the reasons a salesperson thinks a buyer would make a purchase, not the actual reasons the buyer would.

People buy for their reasons, not yours.

This is an important distinction because at the heart of your prospect's decision-making process is the question: "What will it do for me?"

A salesperson should imagine this question emblazoned across the forehead of every prospect, because it is this question that must be answered satisfactorily for a sale to take place.

To effectively answer the "WWIDFM" question, salespeople must first understand the five factors that influence a customer's decision to purchase - the Five Buying Decisions. These decisions are based on the idea that people buy emotionally and then justify their decisions logically.

Therefore, to be an effective salesperson you must learn to appeal to your prospect on an emotional level.

Earlier, I wrote about the Seven Steps of the Track Selling SystemTM to guide a prospect through a comfortable selling process without pressure.

The Seven Steps dovetail with the Five Buying Decisions because each one is addressed in the precise psychological order in which prospects make their decisions.

Here are the Five Buying Decisions:

1. The salesperson.

Logically, you would think the first buying decision would be about the product, service or idea you're trying to sell, but remember, the prospect's buying decisions are emotional, not logical. In this first contact, your prospect is deciding how she feels about you. Can she trust you? Do you understand her needs? Will you be of service to her? Prospects want to buy from someone who is a helpful, valuable consultant. They want you to understand what they need as much as you understand the product, service or idea you're selling. This decision fits into the first three steps of the Track Selling SystemTM - step one: approach, where you open the sale with a positive first impression; step two: qualification, where you ask open-ended questions to gather information; and step three: agreement on need, where you demonstrate an understanding of the prospect's needs.

2. The company.

In addition to liking you, if you represent a company, your prospect will need to be assured it's dependable. While you make an obvious distinction between yourself and your company, your prospect does not. As long as you are a representative of the company, then the company is who you are in her mind. If you demonstrate that both you and your company have integrity, your prospect will be more open to your presentation. This decision is addressed in step four of the Track Selling SystemTM: sell the company, where you highlight past successes of the company to build your prospect's confidence.

3. Your product, service or idea.

Once your prospect has determined that she can trust you and your company, she will then evaluate your product, service or idea to determine if it suits her needs. The challenge of this step is for you to recognize that if it is not a fit for her, it's your responsibility to graciously back out of the sale.

Trying to persuade her to buy something she may later regret will destroy the trust you worked so hard to build with her. This decision is addressed in step five of the Track Selling SystemTM: fill the need, where you answer the "What will it do for me?" question positively.

4. Price.

Price may seem like it should be the first buying decision because most of us assume a prospect's decision to buy would be based on cost. Prospects buy because of value, not price. Until your prospect is convinced your product, service or idea is valuable and that she will derive benefits from it, no price will be right. Furthermore, discounting your price only cheapens the quality of your product, service or idea in her eyes. Sell value, then present the appropriate price. "For your (summary of features), the price is (quote the price)." This decision is addressed in step five of the Track Selling SystemTM: fill the need, as well.

5. Time.

Now is the time to ask for the order and give an implementation date. Your prospect will decide whether your timetable fits with her requirements. No one wants to spend money before it is necessary, but if you can give sound advice on why she should buy now, she'll want to hear it. Above all, remember that people buy because it is clear to them that the seller truly believes in his product, service or idea. This conviction is worth more to your buyer than all the facts in your presentation. This final decision fits with step six of the Track Selling SystemTM: act of commitment, where you summarize your areas of agreement and then ask for the sale.

If your prospect doesn't like you, doesn't feel comfortable with your company, doesn't understand the value of your product, service or idea or feels rushed in any way, that prospect will not be in the right frame of mind to purchase - even if what you're offering, the pricing and the timing are perfect.

This is why handling your prospect's Five Buying Decisions effectively is critical.

The better you understand the Five Buying Decisions and how they work integrally with the Seven Steps of the Track Selling SystemTM, the better you can design a presentation that identifies and meets your prospect's needs.

By effectively completing this process, you can build a solid relationship and become a trusted partner with whom your customers feel respected, understood and secure in their every purchase.


Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.

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Is Your Prospect Ready For A Sales Call?
by Michael Nick

How many times have you fought hard to get an appointment with a prospect and when you finally do and show up, THEY are the ones who are not prepared?  You did your research, you checked LinkedIn, you prepared your questions for the discovery discussion and when you sit down across from them, they respond with "I don't know", "Let me check on that", or "Good question, I don't handle that part of our business directly." 

In ROI Selling we developed a product called an "Initial Discovery Questionnaire." This document is used to send to a prospect in advance of your meeting informing them of what you are specifically going to ask them. Here is the layout and how its recommended use.

Begin with a cover page of the information and assumptions you are already aware of. Things like contact information for you, your team, the prospect and their team. Include any high level data you already know too like size of company, number of staff, etc. 

Next, create 6 - 8 questions that help you determine their issue pain or goal. For example, when we use this technique our questions are, "Do you think your team discounts too much?" or "Is your close ratio where you would expect it to be?". Each question is a pain we know we can resolve. We want to drive them to our value proposition. Again, I suggest you create 6 - 8 of these primary discovery type questions. 

The next page we break out into three sections. The first section is a statement of value. For example at the top of the first section in bold print we type "Increase Revenue with a Reduction in Discounting". The next section we enter a short paragraph explaining how we help them reduce discounting. Finally in the last section we enter the questions we want to get answered that support the value we can offer through our solution. In the above example, we would ask, Annual Revenue, and Average Discount rate. By knowing these two numbers we are able to use simple math to calculate how much revenue they lose annually from discounting. 

Each of the 6-8 questions will have a section below with the questions that lead to your value. Title the document "Initial Discovery." Be sure to put instructions on the front explaining these are the questions you want to discuss when you meet, and that they please take the time to get the answers before you arrive. 

Use the answers in your thank you letter, confirming the information you received and establishing the next steps. Also use the information as a guideline for your presentation or proof of value. This technique is just step one in the ROI Selling process. For more information please visit us at

ROI4Sales designs, builds and deploys custom sales tools like TCO, ROI, Value Estimation and Risk Assessment tools. Visit or website for more information: or download one of our data sheets at sheets or call us at 262.338.1851.

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at:

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