January | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Thinking Out of the Box for the New Year Jim Dunn & John Schumann >>
  • Do You Sell To Human Beings? by Jill Harrington >>
  • Right Questions Help On Fact-Finding Calls by Roy Chitwood, CSP, CSE >>
  • 33 Tips for Selling Success By Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” >>
  • Avoiding Sales Call Accidents By Mark Christie >>
  • Sales Mistake: The Temptation of Hot Prospects by Jill Konrath >>
  • "Me Too" Selling At Its Best By Bill Lee >>


Thinking Out of the Box for the New Year
Jim Dunn & John Schumann

Problem: Another new year. Will it be more of the same for you? We recently met with a group of salespeople that we have trained for several years. We discussed their results for last year and what their revenue expectations for the New Year were. They explained that management was looking for a 15% sales increase, but that, considering the economy, just breaking even would be a real win. Barriers to success were discussed and, unfortunately, became the main focus of the conversation.

Analysis: We see this all the time. Most people seem to be stuck in neutral, seeing the world with blinders on, expecting a rerun of the past year and hoping for no more than a modest increase. This sales team was focused on how difficult it would be to make their goals, and with this attitude they will probably be doomed to failure. We are a product of our expectations. If we think we can’t, we probably won’t. You’ve heard about self-fulfilling prophecies before. Most people are entirely too conservative in their expectations; fear of failure, perhaps even apathy, is the root of the problem.

Prescription: Think big for a change! Think out of the box!
The really positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangibles, and achieves the impossible. It’s called a quantum leap. Give the following some thought…

  • You don’t have to be content with improving things gradually or incrementally.
  • Historical behaviors can become obstacles to future success.
  • More effort isn’t the answer; more vision is.
  • Don’t limit your desires to things that you think you can have; start thinking about things that you want. Give yourself permission to dream.
  • Suspend disbelief. If you must doubt something, doubt your limits.
  • Doubts are the product of habitual thinking, not accurate thinking.
  • Focus on the ends, not the means. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there, only where you want to go.
  • The answers will come to you. You must be willing to tolerate ambiguity and confusion for a while. Have faith.
  • A quantum leap means going into uncharted waters with no map to follow. You’ll draw the map as you go.
  • There are invisible resources out there that will help you. Paint a vivid picture in your mind so these forces know where you want to go.
  • What’s your risk? Only that you won’t get what you really want out of life. Playing it safe and living with the status quo is probably the surest way of losing.
  • It’s not taking a big chance, it’s giving yourself a big chance.
  • Positive action is more powerful than positive thoughts. Place your trust in the action.
  • Seek failure. It’s a resource, it helps you find the edge of your capabilities.
  • There’s no gain with out discomfort. Progress often masquerades as trouble. The road will be bumpy.
  • Be aware of your comfort zones. If you’re comfortable, you’re not stretching yourself.
  • Ready, fire, aim! Don’t get bogged down in the preparation. It’s just a stalling tactic.
  • Just do it!

We challenged this group to reflect on several things as they began the New Year, and we’d like you to think out of the box and ask yourself the following four questions…

  1. What were some of the things I did last year that were non-productive; things that, I wouldn’t do again?
  2. What will I commit to doing differently this year? (Think out of the box!)
  3. Aside from the ____% sales increase that my company has given me, what is my own personal target? (Think out of the box!)
  4. If I could achieve MY sales target, what would be the reward for me?

Now just go and DO IT!

Thanks to Price Pritchett, PhD, of Pritchett & Associates for many of the above insights.

Good Selling!
Jim Dunn & John Schumann

About The Authors:

The creators of the Common Sense Selling® process are two not-so-common sales professionals and trainers, Jim Dunn and John Schumann. They saw the lack of results and frustration that most salespeople experienced using the old “feature, advantage, and benefit” selling approach in today’s more complex selling environment.

Using their combined 65 plus years of sales experience, they developed a new, common sense approach to selling that is unconventional, by most standards…and it works!

Visit their website:http://www.whetstonegroup.com/


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Do You Sell To Human Beings?
by Jill Harrington

Selling is both “art and science.” The science is the process.  And the world’s most successful sales organizations all have a consistent and disciplined sales process that is aligned with how their customers buy. 

But the science without the art is like the Oreo cookie without the filling. It lacks the critical ingredient that makes it work.

Buyers are human beings.  And human beings are individual, imperfect and unpredictable.  Which means all of the science - your strategy, process and logical thinking - can be seriously derailed if you fail to prepare for the human factor – the art. 

So I’d like to end 2011 by sharing five “human enigmas” that cause even the most talented sales pros to stumble – and provide a little of the art to prevent this happening to you.

No two people share the same perspective
I bet you’ve all encountered these buyers… the customer who doesn’t appreciate the true value of your product. The purchasing specialist who believes you can buy business services the same way you purchase paperclips.  Or the prospect who thinks she’s saving money by doing everything in-house when you know she’d save a heck of a lot more if she’d outsource to the expert.

And what do you do?  Try to educate her of course!  Bring this misguided soul over to your way of thinking.  Convince her to see the error of her way. Only this doesn’t work. The only way to have another human being share your viewpoint is by positioning it in context of hers.  Which means sales pros must be curious.  Willingly open your mind to “understand” conflicting perspectives - even when you disagree.   

Human beings say one thing - and do the other.
Do you see red when a customer talks endlessly about the importance of quality, and then buys from the lowest-cost provider?  There is often a huge divide between what customers say they want, and how they make their final buying decision. The result?  Sellers are blindsided.

Customers don't always know what they want.  Which means you can’t take everything at face value. Ask deep clarifying questions. Listen to the implications of your customer’s answers.  Talk to multiple decision influencers who may hold differing opinions. Notice what isn’t being said, and be prepared to ask tough questions. If your customer struggles to articulate a compelling reason as to why they‘d willingly pay more for your service, then they don’t have one.  And guess what?  It’s not going to happen.

Human beings, under pressure, seek the easy route. 
How many times have you been told you’ve lost the bid because “your price is higher than the competition.”  It’s the easiest and kindest way for a buyer to say, “You missed the mark.”  And it’s probably the most comfortable reason to share with the boss. But it’s rarely the full, or accurate, story.  So give your ego a vacation and take time to find out if price is the core issue.  And always ask, “What else?” Because there will be more.  I speak from experience when I say the “what else” can hurt.  But the greatest learning of my sales career came from never accepting the easy route and always pushing for the hard facts.

Human beings crave commonality.
I’m British and I live in Canada.  And when I meet a fellow Brit for the first time … within minutes “we’ve known each other since birth.” People build stronger faster relationships when they have something in common.  So rather than waiting, or hoping, to discover your commonality, get proactive.  In your pre-call research use all of the technologies and resources at your finger tips to seek out opportunities to demonstrate it.  What do you and this specific buyer have in common?  It may be personal – you went to the same university.  It may be business – both of you work for companies with aggressive growth targets.  It may relate to values – you’re both passionate about the success of others.  Then plan how you will integrate this into your first conversation.

The people who most need you are least likely to buy from you. 
I recently shared this statement with a marketing guru.  His response?  This should be engraved on a gold plaque and hung in every sales office. 

I discovered this human enigma the hard way. I opened my business thinking the fastest route to riches was to fix the broken sales teams in the world.  I soon realized that these sales teams were failing for one simple reason.  They don’t invest in continuous improvement. So I took a screeching U-turn on my strategy and started talking to successful sales teams.  As soon as I stopped talking to the sales leaders who needed me most, and started connecting with visionary sales leaders who invested heavily in their people, my business took off.

So my simple message to all of you … Stop thinking like a sales person and start thinking like a human being.  Never underestimate the human factor in the sales process. Proactively prepare for it.  Because one thing’s certain. While the sales process is consistent and predictable, human beings are not. And no amount of technological advance will change that. 

Good selling!

JILL HARRINGTON, president, salesSHIFT, has contributed to the success of thousands of B2B sales professionals around the world. She shifts their thinking and actions to enable faster, and bigger, sales results in extraordinarily competitive markets. www.salesshift.ca

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Right Questions Help On Fact-Finding Calls
by Roy Chitwood, CSP, CSE

In a recent column, we reviewed the art of asking questions. We learned how important it was not to ask closed-ended questions where the prospect only has to answer yes or no. Closed-ended questions create an atmosphere where the conversation begins to sound like an interrogation. Instead, we learned that we should be asking open-ended questions that allow the prospect to elaborate on his or her answers.

Open-ended questions also allow us to gather more information as to our prospect's needs and wants. The prospect's response also delivers new information on which to base our next question.

Above all, people prefer talking to listening, and the more you listen, the better your prospects will like you. And prospects buy products from people they like.

Sir Laurence Olivier once advised: "You have to have the humility to prepare and the self-confidence to bring it off." Likewise, the best salespeople in the business prepare a list of standard qualification questions to be used in every sales call.

Being prepared also means that in addition to the standard queries, they are prepared with specific questions that relate to the prospect being called upon.

Your goal on any sales call is to gather information that will allow you to help a prospect fill a need or solve a problem. You need to gather accurate background information that will allow you to offer effective solutions.

Along with the basic facts you need to uncover your prospect's attitudes and opinions - the kinds of things that are important to him. In order to gather this important information you must ascertain basic, concrete facts that allow you to qualify the prospect and then direct your presentation to fit the particular needs of the prospect.

These are called fact-finding questions. They should be simple and easy to answer. They should keep the prospect relaxed and not give the prospect the impression that they are being grilled for information. Some examples are:

  • "Who else will be involved in this buying decision?"
  • "How will this product (or service) be used?"
  • "What product (or service) do you currently use?"

Facts alone are generally not enough. You also need to uncover the prospect's attitudes and opinions, his or her unspoken feelings. You need to uncover their emotions and motivations for buying your product or service.

To find out this important information you have to ask open-ended feeling-finding questions such as:

  • "How do you feel about that?"
  • "Why is that important to you?"
  • "What is your opinion on that change?"

Think specifically about the product or service you sell. Try to think of specific feeling-finding questions you can ask to uncover your prospect,s feelings, attitudes and opinions.

It is a common tendency among sales people first learning to ask open-ended questions to ask open-ended questions followed immediately with closed-ended ones. The prospect will most likely answer to the second question and the answer will be the undesirable yes or no, or at best a brief response:

Salesperson: "What did you think of that? Wasn't it a good idea?"

Prospect: "Yes, I guess."

If you examine the salesperson's question you may have noticed something else amiss here. The salesperson has, in effect, answered his own question, leaving the prospect with really little to say.

This sends a very bad message to the prospect that, in fact, the salesperson does not really have much interest in the prospect’s actual response. Watch out for this common mistake and teach yourself to avoid it.

One thing that you can do to stop yourself from this tendency is to pause after your open-ended question and look at your prospect, waiting for a response. This is called the Friendly, Silent, Questioning Stare, or FSQS. My friend Jack Berman of Berman Publications developed it. Here is how it works:

After asking your prospect a good open-ended question, stop, remain silent and look at your prospect with warmth and genuine interest. This look is friendly as you care about that person. It is silent as you are waiting for the person to respond. Your look is questioning as you are wondering what is on his or her mind.

An additional technique is called the reflective question. By repeating a few key words from the speaker’s last statement you encourage the prospect to continue to talk on the same subject.

Prospect: "I played golf every Sunday until I broke my rib."

Salesperson: "Broke your rib?"

Prospect: "I have wasted my entire week getting records in order for the tax audit."

Salesperson: "Tax audit?"

The prospect will sense that you are interested in what he or she has to say and will continue to talk on the same subject, filling in with even more detail. Just make sure you use this technique sparingly or you will sound like an echo.

There is one kind of question that is manipulative. It is called a directive question where the salesperson directs the prospect to the desired answer:

Salesperson: "If I can show you how you can save money and time, that would interest you, wouldn’t it?"

Prospect: "I guess so."

I suggest you turn this kind of question into a closed-ended, feeling-finding question instead:

Salesperson: "If I can show you how you can save time and money, would that interest you?"

Prospect: ‘Yes, that would interest me."

Even with this minor change your prospect will only have a brief yes or no answer.

These techniques for drawing people out and encouraging them to talk about themselves can be an invaluable, social asset. Practice these techniques around your co-workers or around your dinner table. The more you practice the smoother and more comfortable these techniques will be for you.

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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33 Tips for Selling Success
By Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter”

Are you a salesperson who is always scanning the sales landscape for ways to improve? Do you tend to your sales motivation with great care, never forgetting that you are indeed responsible for your level of success? My guess is that the below 33 tips will resonate with you!

1. Early Morning Voice Mail:

Leaving voice mail messages is not a the best way to develop new customers, but it is a great way to keep in contact with those customers with whom you already have a relationship (but may not deal with on a frequent basis). The entire process takes less than 5 minutes per day, preferably between 6:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. Calling people at this time shows you are driven. Understandably, people are often away from their desk at this time, so you would be able to make 3-5 calls in the span of only 5 minutes. Great way to build momentum for the day.

Your big objective here is to not let the person you’re contacting forget about you. The way you do this is by merely stating that you haven’t heard from them lately. You can compliment them on their business or simply suggest that the two of you should talk later. Should you reach someone at this time of morning, all the better. The person you reach live will be impressed that you’re also at work before most people, and chances are the person will talk for at least a minute. Remember, the objective is not to sell anything — it’s simply to raise the other person’s awareness of you, thereby opening the door for future sales.

2. Learn the Customer:

Every time you’re with a customer, make it a point to learn something personal and professional about them. Don’t allow your time together to be so focused on the immediate business opportunity that you miss out on additional, long-term information. It’s the long- term information you gain that will help you retain the customer, and the longer you have a customer, the more likely they are to refer others to you.

When you’re gathering information about the person, look for items that are of common interest to you both. These are the items that will help you propel the business relationship to the next level.

3. A Perception is Worth a Thousand Words:

Recently, I stopped by a computer store to have my PC worked on and the clerk proved to be anything but customer-friendly. When she did finally speak to me, she told me I would need to leave my PC at the store for at least 3-5 days and that I should be prepared to have everything wiped off the computer. Her comments were not very reassuring, and as I left the store, I mulled over my decision to leave the PC with them. Within an hour, I returned to the store, picked up the PC and took it to another store where I received the personal service I was looking for.

It’s ironic to think that the first computer store probably would have done the same repair as the second store, yet the second store got my business (and all my future business) based strictly on the personal service of the clerk.

Have we stopped to think for a moment about the perception we give people when we talk to them? Next time you enter into a conversation with a potential or new customer, think about how the other person sees you. Do they see you as an expert — a professional who can provide them with the confidence they need?

In today’s business climate, we all have numerous competitors who can provide service or products similar to ours. The difference lies in the confidence we provide the customer. Before you begin the next conversation, think “confidence” — not just in what you plan and say, but in how the other person will perceive you.

4. Opening the Sales Call:

Always start off a sales call by covering three things: 1. Gain a clear understanding of the amount of time the call will take. 2. Make sure the customer knows what the objective of the call is. 3. Relate the reason for the current sales call to the previous sales call you had with the person, or to information you may have sent them.

Connecting the current sales call to something previous gives the customer the comfort of knowing you remember fully everything that may have already occurred. This also gives the customer the comfort of knowing you respect their time and that whatever is decided in this current meeting will be acted upon by you.

5. “Your Price is Not High Enough”:

OK, so you’ve never heard that line, but wouldn’t it be great to hear it? A price can never be too high –it’s only too high when we haven’t taken the time to find out what the true benefits are of the item we’re selling. Remember, there is no such thing as “too expensive.” There is only the belief that the potential gain from something is not worth the cost.

This principle explains why one person might be willing to pay only $10,000 for a car, while the car might be worth $100,000 to another person. The difference? The perceived benefit.

Next time you’re about to buy or sell something, think in terms of the benefits the customer can gain from using it and not the price you’re asking. When it comes right down to it, there is nothing that is too expensive — it only lacks sufficient benefits to warrant the price.

6. Celebrate Your Customer’s Anniversary:

For salespeople who have retained customers for a period of years, it’s special to recognize them and their relationship with you. It’s also a great way for your customers to realize how much you think of them and a great way for you to take the relationship to an even higher level through this personalized type of communication.

7. Hand-Written Business Cards:

Next time you’re about to give someone your business card, take a moment to personalize it. If you take a moment to jot on the card your cell number, a home phone number, or some other piece of information that is not already on the card, you will suddenly make the person to whom you’re talking feel very special. Chances are the person will never call you on the hand-written phone numbers, but simply writing them on the card gives the person the feeling that you are placing them in high regard compared with others who you meet.

8. Speak With Your Face:

I’m constantly amazed at the number of times I run across salespeople who clearly don’t believe what they’re saying. It is easy to spot in the person’s face and body language. They take on a whole host of non-verbals, ranging from non-expressive smiles with tight lips to eyes that lack any sense of direction.

When we’re selling to a customer in person or on the phone, we have to make sure our entire face reflects the enthusiasm and excitement of our words. Why would we expect a person to buy from us if we’re not connected to and excited about what we’re selling?

9. Umbrella Questions:

Don’t forget to use “umbrella questions” on every sales call. Umbrella questions are questions that work in any selling situation and are designed to provide you with additional information.

Examples of umbrella questions include: Why? Tell me more. Share with me another example. Explain further. Are there some other examples you could share with me?

You get the idea — umbrella questions are ones that get the customer talking more about what they’re looking for. On your next sales call, challenge yourself to ask at least 5 umbrella questions.

10. Customer’s Goals:

Do you know what goals your customers have? Just think how much more effective you could be if you knew the goals of the person to whom you are selling. Find out what their personal and business goals are for the current and upcoming year by asking questions and listening to their answers. In addition, let them know that you have set goals for yourself. Explain your belief that it is essential for you to help your customers achieve their goals in order for you to achieve your own.

11. Prospecting Timeline:

At certain times in the year, most people are working hard to make their numbers. Yet, at the same time, many have no idea how long it takes to turn a prospect into a profitable customer. Creating a “prospecting timeline” can help benchmark past experiences and streamline future ones. Begin this process by examining a few recent customers, and then break down the key activities you went through.

Your goal should be to determine the specific activities that were the most time consuming, and then figure out a way to shorten the time spent on that particular step. Most people are amazed to find that a couple of activities take the majority of time. By knowing this, they can work to alter their selling process. Plan now so the upcoming year will be your best year ever!

12. Holiday Networking:

When we near the holidays, it’s a great time to begin preparing your schedule for making phone calls to people to whom you rarely talk. There’s no better opportunity than during the holidays to call someone you haven’t spoken to recently and wish them a great Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. If you make 5 calls per day, just think of how many people you can network with by the time December 31 rolls around?

13. Holiday Selling:

Often the holiday period becomes a very difficult time to sell when you’re in a business-to-business environment. If this is the case for you, use the holiday period to sell yourself and your knowledge. Send your customers information about your industry, the economy or other points of interest. Although they may not read the information, they will notice that you took the time to send it to them.

Use these months to deepen your relationship with your customers. When business gets back to normal after the first of the year, you’ll have new things to ask them about and, more importantly, you’ll be viewed as a salesperson who is interested in more than just money.

14. Know Your Customer’s Customer:

How much do you know about your customer’s customer? It doesn’t matter if you sell B2B or B2C, the question still demands an answer. I work with too many salespeople who, when asked this question, have only a shallow answer.

Take the time to find out all you can about what motivates your customer’s customers. Spend time with them, talk to them, and, most of all, get to know what drives their decision-making process. When you can identify this information, you can then provide your customer with even better service.

15. New Year’s Resolution:

Start the New Year off right by developing the habit of recording the questions you ask on a sales call. Create a complete list of all the questions you ask to open a conversation, explore facts, close a sale, etc. Along with recording the questions, make a note of the type of responses you receive. Within a few months, you will not only have documented your questioning skills, but also developed your own personal list of questions you feel very comfortable asking.

16. Have you Learned Something New? :

There is always something new you can learn about your customers, whether they are newly acquired or long-term accounts. Use each sales call as an opportunity to be teachable. It’s amazing how customers change! Unless you keep up-to-date knowledge about them, you will soon find they’ve changed and you haven’t. After each sales call, ask yourself what you learned about the customer and, of course, make sure you record it in your customer profile.

17. Benchmark Your Sales Goal:

At the end of each day and each week, compare your accomplishments to your overall sales goal. If you achieved the volume you needed to hit your goal, congratulate yourself! If you didn’t, identify at least one thing that did go right and might help you achieve your goal in time. Always find something positive to end the day with. Before you leave, don’t forget to set up the next day or week! The last thing you want to do is use those very productive first minutes of the day doing anything but selling.

18. “Google” a Customer/Prospect:

Looking for a reason to contact a customer or a prospect? Search their name on Google.com to see if there are any listings for them. You’ll be astonished at what you can find concerning your customers/prospects or others with their same name. Regardless of the outcome, the search should give you some interesting antidotes you can use on the next contact. When that contact is made, the customer/prospect will be amazed you took the time to do the search, and if you do find something in reference to them, you’ll have the perfect subject to talk about.

19. Agree on Something:

Never end a sales call without having agreed with your customer on something, even if it’s not the close of a sale. The objective of coming to an agreement, no matter how small it might be, is to demonstrate to the customer that you’re able to move the sale forward.

If possible, gain agreement on one particular aspect of the sale and use this as a building block for the next time you meet. However, if you can’t see eye to eye on a particular aspect, you may at least be able to concur on the items you intend to follow up on or a time to get together again. The important thing is that you agree on something and use whatever it is as a “next step” toward a future sales call.

20. Reduce Your Selling Time:

In each day, make time to not do any type of selling. Rather, use that time to reflect upon recent sales contacts and identify at least one thing you did well in each. Think of the questions you asked, the body language you used, and the information you shared. After you’ve pinpointed the best of the best, take the time to plan how you can do that same activity in every other sales call you have.

21. Don’t Present All Your Information:

Never plan to present all of your information on a sales call. If you do, you’ll have nothing left to show the customer should you reach the end of your presentation without a sale. The keys to a successful sales call are to know your information so well and to be so prepared that you do not need to present everything to gain the sale. “The best sales presentation is the one never given.” — The Sales Hunter

22. Add-On Sales:

Every time you make a sales presentation, always be thinking about what the add-on sales may be. If you wait to think about this until after you close (as is commonly done), you tend to be too rushed and forget the whole add-on process.

Thinking about these sales during the presentation will enable you to be ready when the time comes to ask for them. In addition, many times, the suggestive sell of the add-ons can help close the sale of the first item. By using this technique, you increase the potential for the total sale, and decrease the amount of time you would use if you were to sell each item independently.

23. Never Give 100%:

The customer should never hear your entire sales presentation! If you have to deliver the whole thing to make a sale, you either haven’t developed a very good presentation or you shouldn’t be selling. The purpose of the sales presentation is to assist you, the salesperson. It is not so you can assist the fancy, glossy sales materials or the super-slick PowerPoint presentation.

Great salespeople never have to deliver their entire presentation because they’ve taken the time to over-prepare. They’ve built sales materials around any type of concern they may face and are ready to deal with an objection should it arise.

24. Expertise in 30 Minutes a Day:

No one has the time to read everything they need to in either their professional or personal lives. This general shortcoming creates a magnificent opportunity for us as salespeople to become experts in our industry. A universal lack of reading time means that all it takes for a person to be viewed as an expert in his field in less than a year is a commitment to read for 30 minutes a day about their trade (not counting medicine, engineering, etc.)

For the vast number of industries in which salespeople are involved, this simple one-year reading commitment can quickly make you an authority.

25. Using Time to Sell:

Frequently, salespeople think the way to control the amount of time needed for a sale with their customers is by offering them a special deal if they buy now. When this is done, the salesperson is usually only giving away profit, while thinking he’s speeding up a sale. We leverage time best by selling to the customer’s time parameters, not our own. When we sell to their parameters, we are selling at a higher value and a higher profit.

26. Know the Influencer:

With many sales, it appears there is only one person involved in the decision-making process. Yet, more times than not, another person is behind the scenes influencing the decision. When you make your sales call, always assume there is an influencer and expect to deal with him or her.

To find out who that influencer is, use probing questions with the customer such as: Who else in your organization is typically involved in decisions such as this? When decisions like this have been made in the past, what are some of the things others have said? Where does a decision like this rank in terms of other decisions you typically make?

27. Price Discussion:

When faced with resistance to price, offer the customer an example of where they spend considerably more money on something else. By doing so, the customer will begin to put into context the amount you’re asking them to spend with you.

28. Universal Questions:

There are six universal questions you can ask almost anytime and anywhere in a sales presentation. They are: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How?. A perfect place to ask one of these is when you’re not sure where to go with the discussion and/or are afraid of losing control.

29. Sales Advocates:

The best way to make a sale is to have someone else make it for you. You do this by creating sales advocates. These are people who are so impressed with what you offer and/or the way you sell that they tell others about you even without you asking. If you haven’t obtained any sales like this, then you don’t have any sales advocates and, more importantly, your sales process and/or service may not measure up to what people expect.

30. Uncover New Benefits:

After people have had time to experience the product or service you’re selling, they often begin to realize benefits they weren’t expecting. Talk to your long-term customers and find out what additional benefits they’re experiencing. You may find it advantageous to use these in your future sales presentations.

31. Quiet Time:

Block out 30 minutes a day (or 2 hours a week) to move to a quiet location with nothing but a blank piece of paper. During this time, ask yourself how you can secure more sales from your existing customers and make notes of your thoughts. Your best ideas will always come when you step back from the business long enough to examine how you can take your customer relationships to a higher level.

32. Is It Your Product or You?:

It’s important to understand why people do business with you. Have you ever asked your customers why they chose you? Have you ever asked those who chose your competitors why they did not decide to do business with you? Find out if there’s anything about your sales process that needs to be modified. The information is free, and it may wind up being the best feedback you’ve ever received.

33. Your Head:

Tilting your head slightly when you are listening to someone speak communicates that you are giving them your undivided attention. It’s amazing how this simple type of body language can convey a powerful message!

It may seem that 33 tips is excessive, but honestly, if we are committed to our sales motivation, we will constantly be on the look out for even more sales tips! Begin today to incorporate at least some of the above tips to your sales approach, never forgetting that the sales professionals who excel the most are those who never stop learning the best ways to excel.

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. To find out more, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com.

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Avoiding Sales Call Accidents
By Mark Christie

A sales call shouldn’t be something that happens by accident; it should be a planned event. When sales calls aren’t planned, they often result in wasted time and effort, resulting in a no sale. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make a sale on every call but, as a minimum, you should be either starting a sale, moving a sale along, or trying to close one.

Setting Sales Call Goals

Before you pick up the phone to make a sales call or approach a prospect, you should be setting a sales call goal. It will improve your sales performance. Each call should have a specific purpose, desired outcome, or intended result. Before making a sales call, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish or have happen as a result of this call?” If you can’t come up with a good answer, perhaps you shouldn’t be wasting your time or your prospect’s time.

Beware of unrealistic call goals. There’s little chance of “getting an order” or “making a sale” on an initial cold call. The best you can probably hope for is to get the name of the person you should be talking with. Just getting a future appointment with that individual would be considered a very successful conclusion to a cold call.

A sales call goal should answer one of these questions: “What do I want to happen as result of this call?” or “What do I want the prospect to do as a result of this call?”

Typical sales call goals might be: get the name of key contact(s), qualify an opportunity, make a presentation, get an order for…, get a decision regarding…, determine a close date, negotiate a sales contract, close an opportunity or get a purchase order.

Next-Call Goals

On multi-call sales, finish the call by setting mutual goals for the next call. Whenever possible, you want to get a commitment on the part of the prospect to do something, and you want to leave the call knowing exactly what you need to do for the next meeting.

Ending a call with, “I’ll send out the literature for you to review. If you have any questions, just give me a call. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll give you a call.” is all right but it could be better. You’ve left the prospect with no clear commitment for a next step. Ending a call with the following would be even better:

“Let me send you the literature so you can review it and make notes of any additional information you want. I’ll give you a call next Tuesday to answer your questions and see what the next steps are. Will that be okay?”

This approach attempts to get the prospect to commit to read the literature as well as accept a call from the salesperson.

Sometimes simply asking the prospect what he wants to have happen next is enough to set next-call expectations. Here are a few examples:

“What’s the next step?”

“How do you want to proceed?”

“What do you want me to do next?”

Whenever possible, put a timeline on these action items:

“When should we get together again?”

“Can we set a time for our next meeting?”

“When do you want me to get back to you on this?”

The advantage of setting next-call goals or expectations is that it makes the next call much easier to start and gives you an opportunity to service the prospect in a personal value-added manner.

Commercial Visitor or Valued Resource

How do your prospects and customers perceive you? Are you someone to pass some time with (a visitor), or do they welcome you because you bring something of value (a resource)?

Always try to bring something along with you on the sales call that you feel might be of value or interest to the customer. Typical value-added items might be:

reprints (technical article, industry news, etc)

industry-specific, general information

new product information with items highlighted for the particular customer.

The idea is to make your prospect feel special. If you know your prospect is interested in a particular topic, almost anything pertaining to that area would receive favourable attention. Do what you can to ensure that customers look forward to your visits and calls.

Calls to Avoid

Avoid these calls at all costs. They’re guaranteed to annoy your prospect and make you sound like a self-serving salesperson.

Hi, I’m just calling to see if you got the literature I sent.”

“I’m just calling to see what’s happening with the proposal we sent you.”

“I’m just calling to see how things are going.”


“Hi. I just happened to be in area so I thought I’d drop in and…”

Prevent Accidents

These simple rules can substantially improve your call effectiveness so start planning your calls today and prevent sales call accidents.

For more information on sales coaching and training, please refer to The Right Skills.

Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and registered Salesforce.com Consulting Partner based in Toronto, with offices in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.

Visit Mark at: http://www.salesforcetraining.com/

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Sales Mistake: The Temptation of Hot Prospects
by Jill Konrath

I dream of hot prospects who call me up and say, “We’ve heard good things about your company. We want to make a decision quickly. We’re hoping you can help us out.”

Occasionally my sales fantasies turn into realities. When it happens, it’s so easy to be seduced by this low-hanging fruit. Outwardly, I try to appear calm, cool and collected – a true professional. But inside, every inch of my body wants to scream out, “Take me! Take me!”

Okay. I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I really want to make my point.

It’s so easy to be tempted by these opportunities. And when you yield to this temptation, you make fatal mistakes—ones that can totally derail your sales efforts and cause you to lose the business.

True, But Embarrassing Story

Let me give you a personal example, to show you how easy it is to get caught up in this seduction.

A few years ago, my primary business focus was working with large corporations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area when they were launching new products. My expertise? Helping them shorten time to revenue on new product introductions.

I’d just launched SellingtoBigCompanies.com to help small businesses gain access to my expertise. It was my new baby. I’d invested tons of time and lots of love to get it up and running.

When the phone rang that day, I answered absentmindedly. But when the caller announced that he was from Southwest Airlines, I snapped to attention. He’d been all over my new Web site, was very impressed, and also very interested in my training programs.

The airline was going to be putting its salespeople through training in the not-too-distant future and was evaluating its options. When I asked who else he was looking at, I was delighted to be included with the industry biggies.

Mr. Southwest had dozens of questions about my content, delivery models, remote training options, learning reinforcement and more. I answered every single one of them in glorious detail.

When he requested a proposal, I asked, “How soon?” When he answered that he wanted it in two days, I quickly agreed.

The proposal I sent to him via e-mail covered everything we had talked about in our conversation, plus a full range of pricing options. It was a masterpiece. I had high hopes that this opportunity would take my business to a whole new level.

I never heard from Mr. Southwest again. Even though I contacted him many times, he never called back.

Lesson Learned

It was my own fault. I mistakenly let my own eagerness to land this marquis customer outweigh my common sense.

The truth is I really needed the business at that time. After spending many months and lots of money to create SellingtoBigCompanies.com, I was running short on cash. I should have known better, but I was seduced by the opportunity.

In retrospect, I failed to find out if Mr. Southwest was just exploring his options or actually in the final stages of decision making. It’s highly likely he was just doing the former.

Had I known that, I would never have written a detailed proposal. Instead, I would have focused on helping him determine the business value of making a change. I would have used my expertise to help him sell the concept internally and establish decision criteria favorable to my solution.

Over and over again, I see other sellers make similar mistakes when they have a hot prospect on the line. Like me, they expound on their capabilities and benefits. They willingly provide detailed information and do tons of extra work to create proposals or presentations—anything the prospects want.

While that puts you into the “nice” seller category, it’s not a good business decision to invest tons of time and effort to land a fantasy customer. Nor does it help your prospects make the best decision for their organization.

If Mr. Southwest was actually deciding in a couple days, I should have addressed the fact that I was a small boutique firm that didn’t compete head-on with the larger companies he was looking at.

Doing business with me would have been risky. I knew that. But I didn’t want to bring it up; I was hoping he wouldn’t notice!

I was so blinded by the opportunity that I was willing to do anything that he asked. It was delusional on my part. Wishful thinking. Hopeful. When we feel this seduction, we need to remind ourselves that “hope is not a strategy.”

While hot prospects may hold the promise of big paychecks, there’s often much that still needs to be determine if it’s a good fit for your company.

Don’t be overeager. Instead be ruthlessly realistic. Detach from the fantasy and assess your true chances. Bring up the tough questions.

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do for both you and your prospect.

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling (#1 Amazon sales book) and Selling to Big Companies, a Fortune "must read" selection. She's a frequent speaker at sales conferences and kick-off meetings. For more fresh sales strategies and free sales tools that work actually with today's crazy-busy prospects, visit  www.jillkonrath.com.

© Jill Konrath 2012 All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce this article, email info@jillkonrath.com

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"Me Too" Selling At Its Best
By Bill Lee

(Quick Note: Bill's teleseminar Stop Leaving Gross Margin on the Table is this morning! Can't make it? It's not too late to pre-order the cd recording. Click here.)

You may be asking yourself, what's "Me Too" Selling?

There's no reason to be ashamed for asking because this is not a term you frequently hear from sales trainers or sales managers, but many salespeople practice it.

SERVICE is the best example I know of.

I was recently leading a sales seminar for a relatively large group of salespeople, about 90 to 100 if I remember correctly. When we arrived at a certain point in the sales presentation, I asked for a show of hands. If you and your company offer terrific and outstanding service, please raise your hand.

If you had to guess, what percentage of this group of salespeople raised their hands? If you answered, "Close to100%," you would be right on the money.

My point: ALL SALESPEOPLE claim to have excellent service, which is why great service is a classic example of "me too" selling.

In fact, I don't believe I've ever heard a salesperson say he or she has crappy service. You just don't hear it. And because ALL SALESPEOPLE say they have terrific service, customers assume that when it comes to service, all salespeople and all suppliers are equal. So if everyone has terrific service, maybe the deciding factor should be quality.

No, it's not quality, either. I have never heard a salesperson say they have crappy service or crappy quality, so what factor do you believe -- as a result of so much "me too" selling -- most customers assume is THE deciding factor?

If you said, "price," you are right again.

Okay, I believe we would all agree that no salesperson wants the deciding factor to be price, so how do salespeople avoid the "me-too" selling trap? In my opinion: by referring to a SPECIFIC service or to the quality of a SPECIFIC product. When you refer to something specific as opposed to something in general, your claim has more credibility.

Examples of specific services you may wish to refer to:

• On time delivery.

• Accuracy of deliveries.

• Odds the delivery will be complete with no backorders.

• Odds the prices on the invoice will match the prices on the customer's PO.

Set a goal for 2012 to enhance yours and your company's credibility by mentioning specific services when making service claims.

About The Author:

BILL LEE is a business expert. Starting out in 1965 as a field sales representative and then a sales manager with New York City-based GAF Corporation, he soon became a part owner of one of the fastest growing start-up companies in the US — Builder Marts of America, Inc. (BMA)

Bill and his partners grew BMA from a startup to sales of $640 million in just under 20 years. Bill served as a corporate officer at BMA with general management responsibility for the company’s largest division.

Today, Bill is a sought-after seminar leader and business consultant who works extensively throughout the US and Canada.

He is author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line, now in its third printing.

His most recent book, 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot was released in October 2005.

Thousands of owners, managers and salespeople read Bill’s award winning ezines and magazine articles on sales and gross margin improvement and best management practices.

Bill is president of Lee Resources, Inc., a Greenville, SC-based consulting, training and publishing organization.

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