July 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • The Kiss of Death: Phrases and Questions that Will Kill Trust and Lose Sales by Richard Farrell >>
  • 10 Keys To The C-Suite by Michael Nick >>
  • Proposal Best Practices by Dan Adams >>
  • Profile of a Serial Deal Killer - Four Crimes You Must Avoid in Today's Economy! by Tim Wackel >>
  • Strategic Decisions Are Made At The Top – Do Your Salespeople Call There? By Ken Valla >>
  • What Are You Waiting For . . . by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • Find a Place to Prepare for Your Next Sales Call By Bill Lee >>
  • The Top 10 Ways to Stay In Touch With Clients and Avoid Being a Pest by Jim Domanski >>

The Kiss of Death: Phrases and Questions that Will Kill Trust and Lose Sales by Richard Farrell

In the information economy, the language and phrases you use will either advance your cause or cost you support, trust and sales. The following are my favorite annoying stereotypical phrases, statements and questions that will identify you as an amateur, narcissist, self-serving and company-centric salesperson. Some of the following are merely trite and others are very counterproductive in building trusting relationships.

    “We want to help you find a solution to fit your ‘needs’.”-- So cliché

    “How are you?”-- Unsolicited chitchat doesn’t work as well today

    “Is Tuesday at 8:00 good for you or is Friday at 3:00 better?”-- Old school

    “Would you like it in red or blue?” -- More old school

    “You do want to save money, don’t you?” -- Leading the witness, and insulting

    “Are you the decision maker?”-- Overbearing

    “Is it okay with you that I keep in touch with you monthly to see if anything changes?” -- Needy

    “I’d be happy to send out some literature on our exciting new product.”-- Just as needy

    “Let me be honest with you.”-- The other times you weren’t?

    “If I can show you a way to solve your problems today, will you be in a position to buy?”-- Of course they’ll say yes. It’s too easy.

    “We’d like to partner with you.”-- Too cliché

    “I wanted to see if we could be of help to you.”-- Just as cliché

    “Did I reach you at a good time?”-- You sound like everyone else. Too subservient.

    “We can give you a better price. Can I send you a quote?”-- Commodity seller

    “Thanks for taking time to meet with me.”-- Too subservient

    “I’m not trying to sell you anything.”-- Yeah… right!

    “I wanted to tell you about our new product.”-- Who cares about you?

    “My solution is the one that best fits your needs.”-- Says who?

    “I know how you feel. Many have felt the same way. Most have found…”-- Not bad, if everyone didn’t say it.

These old school techniques were probably effective during their time. In today’s business climate, customers so often don’t extend salespeople the benefit of the doubt. An old school phrase or question here and there and you’ve lost rapport. This is why customers in general don’t see salespeople as equals and worthy of their precious time. Some of these phrases aren’t so bad, but they are so overused that you start to look and sound like everyone else. And that is the “kiss of death” in sales.

About The Author:

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com

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10 Keys To The C-Suite
by Michael Nick

Working with the C-Suite can be intimidating at the least for many sales professionals. They are important, they are untouchable, they are too busy, they are speaking in a different language, they are..., they are..., they are..... Well, they are human. And the C-Suite is just like you and me...except they make a lot more money than us. That aside, here are 10 tips to communicating with the C-Suite.

  • Create a Value Inventory, - A Value Inventory will help instill confidence in your products and service. It is an effort that pays off time and time again. In addition to your new found confidence, it is the foundation for developing all sales tools.
  • Use your Value Inventory to tie value to the C-Suite metrics - The C-Suite metrics are ratios that your products and services impact. For example, if your product reduces labor cost, you actually impact operating costs and profit. These are the ratio's the C-Suite cares about.
  • Do your homework before you call on the C-Suite - I cannot impress upon you enough as to the importance of doing your homework prior to a meeting in the C-Suite. They expect you to know their business. You should check LinkedIn for any relationships you have they may know who you are meeting. Do your homework or parish.
  • Create a Value hypothesis and estimate your value as it relates to the impact on the C-Suite metrics before the deal, “hits the market” - This document will establish a basis for your meeting. You can present the potential value you will deliver in their terms using basically a Business Case at the beginning of the sales process.
  • Develop discovery questions that lead your prospect back to your value proposition - Don't waste their time. Have discovery questions written down and ready to discuss. Be sure they are relevant, and challenging. Don't ask a question just to ask a questions.
  • Capture “current” cost and extrapolate that cost over time to set up a discussion on threshold for pain - People respond to pain. If you get agreement from your prospect as to what their problems and goals are and what the current cost of those issues, pains and goals, half the battle is over. Acknowledgement of pain and the ability to capture the cost will push a deal forward faster than any other thing.
  • Discuss threshold for pain and agree on a plan to move forward - All too often you lose to status quo. Why? Because of your failure to understand the prospects threshold for pain. Even if you get them to acknowledge they have issues, and you calculate the cost of those issues...the pain and the cost may be acceptable by the prospect. In other words, they don't care what it is costing them right now.
  • Constantly provide feedback to your prospect on your findings and analysis as it relates to their pain, cost of pain, and market comparison - We (sales people) have been taught our whole life to correspond with the prospect after we meet. This should be done every time you touch them, send a note of thanks and a short description of what you discussed.
  • Create a high quality Business Case that includes, issue, pain, goal, value, impact and investment - remember the C-Suite has very little time, a Business Case should be concise and complete with the issues, value estimates, costs, metrics and plenty of graphics the will help explain economic impact.
  • Provide comprehensive implementation plan that includes follow up on value delivered - A 360 approach will almost always pay off. You are now a partner not a vendor.
Check out my book The Key to the C-Suite, an AMAZON top 10 business book. Order here.

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: http://www.roi4sales.com

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Proposal Best Practices
by Dan Adams


I just received a RFP (Request For Proposal). I want to make my proposal stand out from the crowd. Can you help me?

Austin, TX


Great question! I am happy to offer some advice. 

Your question did not indicate whether you were aware of this bid in advance. I will address your question in two parts. The first part will be assuming you were not aware of the bid in advance. The second part of my response will assume that you did know about the bid before you received the RFP.

If you were not aware of this bid in advance, it means that you had absolutely nothing to do with its creation.  It means that you are already way behind the eight ball in this deal.

I would suggest making use of the "Response To Unsolicited Bid Letter" that we discuss in my TTS Workshops. 

Below is the sample template. 


Response To Unsolicited Bid Letter

 Dear ______:

Thank you for inviting us to bid on your _______ system. We appreciate your confidence in us.

Our policy is not to respond to Request for Proposals (RFP's) until we have had an opportunity to personally interview the department managers impacted by the scope of the project. We have found that our client is the main beneficiary of this policy because it results in high quality implementation which meets both your current and future needs.

If you would like to arrange a meeting for us to meet with the VP of _______, we will be happy to invest the time and resources necessary to complete the RFP to your satisfaction.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to foster a prosperous partnership.



Is this a powerful letter?  YES!  It is basically a version of the Disengage Strategy, one of the twelve Major Account Strategies that are a part of the Sales Strategizer. Be advised, you only send the letter if you are blocked in your attempts to learn more and gain access to key players.

Here are some key points about the use of this letter:

1.  As a sales rep you do not have the authority to use this letter unless you have approval from your manager. After all, your manager may receive a call from your client asking why you are not bidding.  Your manager cannot be taken by surprise. She must be prepared to use a quid pro quo response to obtain the account access and information you need.

2.  You must phone the customer first and tell him about your policy. This softens the sharp edges of this letter.   Again, only send the letter if you are blocked from access to key information.

3.  This letter was developed for private businesses -- not for public/government businesses. You may (but not always) be more likely to respond to a public bid.

4.  Could you lose if you send this letter? YES!  But that is why you send the letter.  You must recognize the following facts:

  • You knew absolutely nothing about this deal.  
  • You are in very late.
  • You can't meet with any of the key decision makers and you don't know who they are. 
  • You don't know their buying process.  
  • You don't know their decision criteria.
  • You did not have any impact on the creation of the bid request.
  • You were unable to determine their specific needs and how they plan to use your solution in the short term and long term. 

In most cases your win chances are 0% at best. Do you really want to spend your scarce personal and corporate resources on this deal? 

The last bulleted point is critical. Let's say by some crazy fluke, you win the deal. Now what happens?  You deliver and install your solution.  But remember, you were unable to determine your client's specific needs and how they plan to use your solution in the short term and long term.  Any problem with that?  Imagine the phone call your company President receives after your system fails to perform a use for which it was never intended. That's not right for you, your company, or your client.
Now let's look at your response assuming you DID know about the bid.

Forget the standard and boring RFP response that the customer asked for. After all, this is your competition. YOU are in control. It is Your Game, Your Rules, Your Time, Your Field!  Take the bull by the horns and turn a standard dreary RFP response into a formal "RECOMMENDATIONS DOCUMENT."

Take some advice from Tom Sant, an expert on proposal writing and author of Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win More Customers, Clients, and Contracts.

  • Don't call it a "Proposal". Instead, write a title that states a benefit to the client, such as, "Increasing Network Reliability and Convenience through Advanced On-Line Capabilities." If you are a true consultant, you really understand your client's needs and therefore can make powerful problem-solving recommendations (It also just sounds better than a "Proposal").
  • Put a watermark on the first draft of your document in big bold letters on page one that says "DRAFT". Then send it to key players in your account with a request for feedback. Once you have incorporated the feedback, remove the watermark.

Tom Sant provides an outline for you to consider for your "Recommendations Document":

1. Title and Brief Introduction
When clients evaluate candidates for a solution, they tend to give more attention to the candidate who goes beyond the simply-stated issues. Successful proposals capture a compelling rallying cry-- a theme that is both creative and pragmatic.
2.  Client Situation
This section needs to say one thing: "Wow, they really listened". When preparing this section, review your notes from key meetings and interactions with the organization. Every company has its own lexicon for its products and process. Using the company's words sets the reader at ease and reinforces your understanding of their business issues. Prove to them that you have done your homework! Go to their website and look for a tie to the issues that your client articulated. When online, look for the company's mission, vision and its orientation toward its clients and employees. Look for their pride in their product and recognize that in your response.  
3.  Client Need
This section is VERY important. Be sure that you have realized not only your client's specific pains, needs and challenges, but also their key criteria. Additionally you have to understand the priority of each criterion.
4.  About XYZ Company
 A proposal should have "legs". Make sure that those who pick up your document can assess the issue and see the value and experience that you and your company bring to the table. In this section, provide your company's key stats, high- level value proposition, key clients served and years in service. This will help bring any new readers up to speed on your approach. Note briefly any awards or special recognition your firm has received.

 5.  XYZ Company Approach
Usually there's more than one way to solve a particular problem. Let the buyer know what your process will look and feel like and detail the client's level of involvement. Where possible, use a complementary graphic to portray your process or recommendation. Use a level of detail appropriate to your reader. If she's a big picture thinker, use broad strokes. If she is a detailed thinker, then spell out your steps. The key is to help visualize your solution.

 6.  Investment
Also known as the money page. Over 85% of readers go right to this section. I like using the term "investment", because investments have a payoff. I try to avoid sticker shock, so where possible, detail your pricing in chunks tied to milestones.

 7.  Why Partner With XYZ Company?
This is the final key area where you will list your client's investment criteria and hammer home why you are uniquely positioned to assist him. I also like the idea of having "proof" to back up each of your key points if possible.
Proposal Tips from Tom Sant: 

  • Focus on your clients' business needs or mission objectives first. Mirror what you have heard from them before offering a solution. 
  • Avoid lengthy corporate histories. Nobody is interested!
  • Eliminate jargon.
  • Keep your proposal as short as possible. It's always tempting to throw in anything and everything that might be of interest, but in reality, the decision makers won't read it. At best, they'll skim through your document. A short proposal is likely to be looked at first, which means all others will be judged in comparison to it. That's an advantage if you've done a good job.
  • Highlight your key points. Note the comment about skimming in the previous tip: Executives skim. You can make your document more "skimmable" by highlighting the main ideas. Use bullets, headings and subheadings, boldface type, color, borders, graphics, and anything else that will make your key points jump off the page.
  • Quantify your benefits and payback. Show the decision maker how much he or she will save, or how much more productive the organization will be. A convincing calculation of your client's return on investment is more compelling than a slogan or cliche.
  • Prioritize your uniqueness factors or competitive advantages. Think about what you have to offer and select a few qualities, prioritized in terms of what your client cares about. If possible, tie them to the ROI you're demonstrating.
  • Ghost the competition. If you know who you are competing against, raise issues in your proposal that strike at their weak points. Don't disparage them or mention them by name, but if you know their software is susceptible to viruses, make a big deal about the importance of protecting against viruses.
  • Ask for their business. Ask for it in the cover letter, ask for it in the Executive Summary, and ask for it when you deliver or present the proposal. Being passive doesn't work. You have to ask.
Good Luck, and Close 'Em!  

About the Author:
Daniel Adams, author of Building Trust, Growing Sales, and creator of Trust Triangle Selling™ helps corporations improve their profits by optimizing the performance of their sales teams. He is a frequent and popular speaker at national sales meetings, workshops and association events. You can visit his web site and read his other articles at www.trusttriangleselling.com.

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Profile of a Serial Deal Killer - Four Crimes You Must Avoid in Today's Economy!
by Tim Wackel

Times are tough for sales professionals everywhere. Customers are slashing budgets, shuffling business priorities, reorganizing internal responsibilities and avoiding almost every unnecessary risk. Today's business climate has many prospects running scared and spending time with a salesperson is not exactly at the top of anyone's list.

So what can you do to increase your chances of sales success in this turbulent economy?

Hint: The answer is right there in your mirror. That's right. . . it's YOU!

It's easy to blame the weak financial markets, the relentless competition or even the boss's unwillingness to negotiate as primary reasons for your lack of success. Hiding behind these excuses is simple and painless. But unfortunately it also creates the perfect environment to start losing your edge. Given enough time, you'll find yourself turning into a serial deal killer.

Here's a quick countdown of the four worst "selling" crimes being committed today and some practical advice on how you can avoid them.

Crime #4 – Assuming "no" when you really don't "know"

Stop assuming they won't take your call, agree to an appointment or do business with you. Too many reps simply give up because they don't hear back from prospects right away. They throw proposal after proposal out the door and then lose interest in following up because they get distracted chasing the next opportunity.

Please understand that I'm not giving you license to become a pest, but I am encouraging you to become more persistent. Quit making decisions for your prospects and move forward the remainder of this year with a relentless "go for no" attitude. Sure you'll face a little more rejection, but that helps clean out your funnel and forces you to focus on the right opportunities. I know it hurts to lose, but you can't lose what you don't have. And you just might be surprised how many times you'll hear a "yes" if you're willing to stay engaged.

Crime #3 – Talking too much

Many sales people get hired because the have the infamous "gift of gab." There is a pretty good chance that you've worked with someone who loved nothing better than the sound of their voice. These reps are great at telling stories, but they struggle to connect and create deeper dialogue with prospects and customers.

Many customers are being asked to do more with less today. Spending time with an overly friendly (see all chatty) sales rep isn't a priority, it's a liability.

Being able to clearly and succinctly articulate a compelling story is vital to your success. Your goal is to be brief, be bright and then be gone.

Before you make your next call, ask yourself; why, given all of the competitive alternatives available, should this prospect want to do business with me right now?

Crime #2 – Failing to ask for commitment

One of the major reasons reps don't get the business is because they hesitate to ask for it. Don't focus on the outcome, focus on the process. If you've done the right things in the right way, it becomes your professional responsibility to be assertive.

When should you close? Early and often! Asking for little commitments along the way makes asking for the final commitment much easier. Plus you'll quickly learn how realistic the opportunity is. Customers who are unwilling to make small commitments along the way are going to be even less enthusiastic about making a bigger commitment later on.

Crime #1 – Purposely (or mistakenly) using less than adequate skills

If you're going to sell more every year, you need to get better every year. Sales people who think they're done learning are usually just done. And that's OK if your closing question is "Do you want fries with that?"

There is an abundance of sales books, tele-seminars, podcasts, webinars, and sales training programs available today. What are you waiting for?

So where should you focus? Start by honestly answering a few of these questions.

How much preparation are you putting into each call?

Are the questions you ask thought provoking or mind numbing?

How valuable are your ideas (i.e. would prospects pay for them?)

What are the top three obstacles that prevent deals from closing?

How do you clearly and concisely address these obstacles?

What are you doing every week to help build better relationships?

Make a commitment right now to sharpen some of your selling skills. I'm confident it will help you win more opportunities and create more success!

It takes courage to admit you could be a better sales rep and confidence to believe you can change; it takes nothing to create excuses.

Speaking of Sales is about finding, winning and keeping customers for life. If that's part of your job, then you won't want to miss the next issue.

Until then,
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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Strategic Decisions Are Made At The Top – Do Your Salespeople Call There?
By Ken Valla, Vice President, Wilson Learning

What growth strategy is your sales organization pursuing as the economy begins to show signs of recovery? As the business climate improves, so do the opportunities for shifting from survival to growth mode. Frozen budgets are beginning to thaw and companies are starting to consider funding projects deferred during the height of the recession. If your organization has been in survival mode over the past year, you may have been focused primarily on protecting your customer base. Now, the question is how best to take the first steps toward jump-starting increased sales. Should you invest in higher levels of prospecting activity to expand your customer base? Or is it more productive to seek out hidden opportunities in existing accounts? 

It may seem that the quickest path to substantial new business is through the doors of new customers. Expanding the base, however, is always expensive, and at present, it may be more so. Caution is still the prevailing mood across most industries, and few firms are ready to take the risk of starting out with new suppliers. It makes sense to look for opportunities in your own backyard—in the accounts where you already have an established relationship.

The Challenge: Familiarity Breeds Entrapment
The good news about working with your existing customers is that you are already in the “magic circle” of trusted suppliers. The bad news is that the same familiarity that brings repeat business can also become a straitjacket. Salespeople become comfortable with a small number of contacts in a particular area, such as IT in the case of a technology offering. Although they may have been exhorted to call higher and wider in their accounts, it can seem risky to break out into other areas, and especially to call on executives who have little obvious reason to talk to salespeople. 

Yet without such conversations, opportunities will be missed that are invisible from inside the confines of one area and level. It is at the higher levels of the organization that decisions are made about priorities and funding. Currently, many lower-echelon and mid-level managers have less budget authority than they had even a year ago, as spending continues to be tightly controlled. Customers are being especially cautious allocating still-scarce resources, and are highly focused on a few strategic goals. It is in those targeted areas that the real opportunities will be found. 

A Calling Strategy to Uncover Additional Business
To uncover those top few strategic priorities, salespeople need to overcome their reticence about developing relationships with executives outside their usual circle of contacts. What is required is an enterprise-wide calling strategy to meet with the right people at the right levels with the objective of confirming the top business priorities. Based on this information, salespeople can prioritize opportunities and determine which solutions can provide the greatest benefit to the customer. To be successful, however, it’s essential to know how to 1) identify whom to call on, 2) prepare for the call to ensure credibility, and 3) lead the conversation in the role of a business resource, not a salesperson. 

Identifying the Right People: Whom are you going to call?
The “right people” question is the first one to be answered, and the calling strategy should start with identifying which functional areas of the company to target and then which people to contact. Decisions about where to call should focus on finding information about such issues as:

  • Competitive challenges
  • Research and development goals
  • Financial metrics
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • External changes such as new regulations or the emergence of new technologies or competitors
  • Internal changes such as acquisitions, mergers, restructuring, etc.

Once the right areas have been determined, functional leaders should be identified who can discuss specific departmental goals and accountabilities, as well as the executives who have both a business unit and corporate perspective.

Preparing: Establishing Credibility by Understanding the Critical Success Factors
For many salespeople, the biggest barrier to calling higher in the organization is the lack of a clear answer to an obvious question: “Why do I want to take time to meet with you?” To answer with confidence requires a transition from a sales mindset to a business mindset, and the ability to talk about something that is of interest to every executive: his or her most pressing business concerns. 

Although only a more detailed conversation can verify what those specific concerns are, a salesperson can begin to establish credibility from the first contact by demonstrating broad knowledge of key issues affecting the customer’s industry. These can be thought of more precisely by using the concept of Critical Success Factors (CSFs), defined by John Rockart of MIT as “the few key areas of activity in which favorable results are absolutely necessary for a . . . [company] to reach its goals.”

In this definition, the words “few” and “to reach its goals” are especially important. Typically there are just a handful of CSFs to be identified, and they are not the same as goals. Rather, they are the things that need to go right for the goal to be attained. They are deemed critical because if these things don’t go well, the organization could fail, perhaps catastrophically. This is why CSFs are sometimes described as “the things that keep executives up at night.” Had Lehman Brothers maintained enough assets to fulfill financial obligations (once considered a given in the financial services industry), there might have been no financial collapse and the firm would still be in business.  

CSFs exist on the industry, corporate, and functional level. For example, in the distribution industry, supply chain management and delivery efficiency is a CSF. This might mean that an executive in charge of operations for a large distribution company has a specific goal to reduce delivery time by 25%. One of his CSFs—particular to his situation—might be to streamline warehouse picking and packing operations. At the level of the warehouse operations manager, this CSF turns into a goal—to implement new procedures, possibly new inventory management software, and so forth, within a specified time frame. 

How does this concept help in preparing for a conversation with a specific executive? For a start, it provides a well-defined objective for “due diligence” research to learn about the customer’s industry and business environment. Armed with information about industry CSFs, the salesperson would be able to open up a conversation with the executive in the above example by asking a relevant question: “Many distribution companies are focused on improving speed and efficiency of delivery. Is this a concern for you?” This establishes a context for a discussion of the executive’s business and a rationale for further conversation—to learn more about the answer to that question. 

Leading a Business (not Sales) Conversation
Having laid a foundation of knowledge about the executive’s industry and company, the salesperson should be able to plan for an effective in-person call on an executive. The key is to focus on two objectives: delivery of value to the executive and confirmation of his or her goals and CSFs. The two objectives interact with one another, in that many leaders have not explicitly articulated an answer to the question, “What has to go right for X goal to be achieved?” They often find it interesting to discuss their goals in those terms and to clarify their own thinking in the process. The salesperson may be able to add value in another way if there is information to share based on conversations in other business units or at other levels in the executive’s own area.

A useful protocol for a CSF conversation is to open the conversation with a reference to one or more industry CSFs, then to narrow the focus to identify one or two key goals. With respect to each goal, questions can be asked to discover the CSFs, which will be the executive’s top priorities. A model for the conversation might include questions like the following:

“As I work with other companies in X industry, I have found that many of them are concerned about Y. Is that a concern for you as well? How has your company responded to that issue?”

“Could you tell me a little about your current goals for your business?”

“In order to achieve goal A, what are the key activities that have to go just right?” 

“Are there any other areas where you absolutely have to get good results to attain goal A?”

The Payoff: Uncovering New Business Opportunities
By having a series of such conversations in the right areas of the account, salespeople will derive an accurate and clear understanding of where resources and attention will be directed. An analysis of the specific goals and CSFs of key decision makers and the overall company goals and CSFs will provide a template for determining where your offering can have the greatest impact on the customer’s business. More than likely, a number of opportunities will open up as a result of a successful call strategy, and the CSF information will provide an additional tool for prioritizing those to see where your own company can focus sales efforts for the biggest payoff. And the return on the investment in the call strategy as a whole comes not only in terms of an individual sale, but in terms of establishing a relationship with more contacts, at higher levels, than you had before. 

While this kind of network and relationship building in an existing account requires an investment of time and resources, it is more efficient and effective than starting from scratch to prospect for and develop new customers where you have no existing relationships or insider knowledge. Nonetheless, as companies become more confident about new capital expenditures and more of them open up new projects for consideration, the same approach can be used to expand the base of your business, building a greater variety of relationships in new accounts from the very beginning. As this kind of calling strategy becomes a common practice for your team, it can boost sales and profitability across the board, in both older and newer accounts.

# # #
About the Author:
Ken Valla, Regional Vice President, Wilson Learning Corporation, is responsible for driving sales strategies to increase revenue, profitability, and market share in North America. With over 15 years of experience in sales and sales management, Ken has consistently produced results exceeding annual objectives. Ken specializes in the complex sale that encompasses multiple buyers at various levels, often in global accounts and typically requiring executive involvement. His experience allows him to help his customers go-to-market more strategically and address their unique requirements. As an experienced sales executive, he understands what is required for sales people to succeed in today’s highly complex environment.

To learn more about the concepts shared within this article and how Wilson Learning can assist you in addressing these issues, contact Wilson Learning at 1.800.328.7937 or visit www.wilsonlearning-americas.com .

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What Are You Waiting For . . .
by Jim Meisenheimer

For most professional salespeople the year is divided into four quarters.

You may not have thought about this, but you're in the second half of the 2012 selling game.

And if you play the second half of 2012 the way you played the first half, you would be wise not to expect different selling results.

I have a file folder for my ideas for future newsletters and also clippings of interesting articles that I can reference in these newsletters.

Three days ago, sipping on a cup of hot coffee, I went through this file and saw something that might motivate you to have a strong second-half in 2012.

The article was written by Peggy Noonan. She contributes to the WSJ every Saturday on the Op Ed Page. In this particular article she wrote about the current Director of the CIA - Gen. David Petraeus.

Gen. Petraeus is a 1974 graduate of West Point. He graduated 10th in his class. He's smart and well-educated. He has a Masters degree in public administration, a PhD in the lessons of Vietnam, and a fellowship in foreign affairs at Georgetown.

He has a reputation for being "Decisive." Here's a quick story to illustrate his decisiveness.

In 1991 Gen. Petraeus was commanding the Third Battalion of the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell Kentucky.

On September 21st during a live fire training exercise, one of his soldiers trips on his M-16 rifle and discharged it. The bullet hit Gen. Petraeus in the chest.

He was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

He was hemorrhaging. The local surgeon was waiting and ready for the patient.

According to the story, the key issue was the patient lost a lot of blood and was losing even more.

The surgeon had to choose between opening Petraeus up ASAP or wait until his condition was stabilized.

The general was conscious, so the surgeon said, "Listen, I gotta make a decision about whether to take you straight to surgery or stabilize you first, and give you some blood."

Gen. Petraeus looked up at the surgeon and said, "Don't waste any time. Get it done. Let's get on with it."

At the time the surgeon commented that most people want to get stabilized before any surgery.

The surgery of course was a success.

By the way, the surgeon was Dr. Bill Frist, who later became a US Senator and the Senate Majority Leader.

Anyone can be decisive. Of course the alternative is to be a procrastinator. It's your choice.

Let's see if I can tie this back to the sales arena.

Do you have a written action plan for the next six months?

What are you waiting for - get it done!

Have you invested in your self development? Look you can't expect better results using the same selling skills you have used in the past.

What are you waiting for - get it done!

Do you have a written goal for how much money you expect to earn during the second half of 2012?

What are you waiting for - get it done!

The second half of 2012 demands a courageous outlook and a "Get it done" attitude.

You can do it - I know you can.

About The Author:

Make sure you check out Jim's Sales Trailblazer program: http://salestrailblazer.com

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”.

Websites: http://www.startsellingmore.com

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Find a Place to Prepare for Your Next Sales Call
By Bill Lee

I was a salesperson for four years before I ever received any lessons on how to be an effective salesperson. I look back on those first four years of my sales career and think often about what a good investment it would have been for my old company if they had invested in a sales training program for me.

While a lot about selling is common sense, the sales profession seems to attract men and women who are gifted in many ways, but lacking in other selling basics. One of the typical shortcomings of salespeople lies in their natural unwillingness to plan ahead.

During my first four years as a salesperson I don't believed I ever planned, not even once. I had my trips laid out so that the geographical parts of my travels were structured and organized, but when it came to what I was going to say and what questions I was going to ask, I was clueless.

When I changed companies I began traveling with my boss, he didn't send me to sales training classes, but he did model for me sales behaviors and sales disciplines I had never been exposed to before. One of them was planning and rehearsing before each sales call.

As he and I drove down the road to our next sales call, he would be reviewing the next customer's or the next prospect's file to familiarize himself with what had occurred on previous calls, what specific products were discussed, what objections had been raised, etc. He would share all of this with me as he discovered it in the file.

At my old company, if I were traveling with my sales manager, we would drive down the road to our next sales call discussing sports, where we were going to have dinner that night or gossiping about what was going on in the company.

The first time we thought about what we were going to say to the next customer was right after the words left our mouths…not a very professional way to manage one's profession.

But at my new company, my boss would always say to me, "How about pulling over at the next exit and let's have a cup of coffee and plan our sales call." I'd exit the freeway, find a place that sold coffee and we'd spend twenty to thirty minutes preparing for the call.

Among the things we'd plan were the following:

1. Who was going to take the lead on the call; that is, who would open conversation with the customer, who would take notes, etc. What would be our opening comments?

2. How did we leave the last call on this customer? What was discussed on the last call that needs to be followed up on this call?

3. At what point would the person taking the lead pass the call to his partner? We would rehearse this step carefully.

4. What products were we going to discuss? What brands did the customer or prospect currently carry and what obstacles did we anticipate having to overcome?

5. We would review each key person's name, how to pronounce his or her name, what each key person's title was and what our relationship was with each key person.

6. What was discussed on the last call? What commitments did we make? Have we lived up to those commitments?

7. What pricing issues did we anticipate would be discussed? Did we need to make a call to one of our suppliers in advance of the call to make sure we had current pricing?

Needless to say, this degree of preparation was a lot different than I had experienced at my old company. I was also amazed at how much more we got accomplished on a sales call when we prepared and rehearsed.

Then immediately following each sales call, we would find a safe place to pull over and we would make good notes about what transpired on the call. What commitments did we make? What insights did we gain? These notes would become invaluable when we made subsequent sales calls on this customer or prospect. In many cases, we would write a thank-you note then and there.

What can you do to enhance the professionalism on your sales calls?

In my experience, you can't over prepare for a sales call. Every minute you spend preparing and planning will pay handsome dividends.

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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The Top 10 Ways to Stay In Touch With Clients and Avoid Being a Pest by Jim Domanski

Do you ever get that vague and uneasy feeling that you're being an annoying pest by calling your clients too often?

There is no question that in these tough economic times it's important to stay front and center but incessant telephone calling is not the answer. It is important to balance the nature of your contacts by doing two things. 

First, mix your media. Use e-mail, direct mail, fax and dimensional mailers to get through the clutter that bombards your client's desk. Use them to create a sense of value and worth with each and every day.

Second, mix your messages. Don't always call or send business related materials. While special offers, sales and other company literature can create value at a business level make sure you don't forget the personal side of the equation. Remember that people buy from people they know, like and trust. Work on these components too. In effect, you want your client to welcome the contact, not avoid it.

Here are the top 10 ways you can do just that:

1. Send a Thank You Note

Every now and then take the time to send a thank you card to your clients and let them know you don't take their business for granted. Give it character by using generic cards that are more personal rather than a thank you card plastered with your company logo. Hand write your message AND hand write the envelope. Use a real stamp. Your effort won't go unnoticed!

2. E-mail a Newsletter or Link

You can unobtrusively 'touch' your clients with your company newsletter but make certain that the newsletter has more than just company propaganda and special offers. The idea is to create value that goes beyond a transactional relationship. If you don't have a newsletter, scan the web and look for sites or links that might be of interest to the client either on a business or personal level. (For example, if the client loves to cook, maybe you send a link to a cooking site).

3. Send/E-mail/Fax a VAA (value added article)

Scan industry magazines and tear out articles that might be pertinent to the client. Attach a Post-it Note that says something like, "Kev, I thought of you when I saw the article on distribution management. Enjoy!" Your client will be impressed that you took the time and effort. Or, if you know the client well, scan magazines that might be relevant to a hobby or passion. Show him that you listened, remembered and took the time to do something extra.

4. Fax a Contest

Laura Tribble is a tele-sales rep who faxes her clients Trivial Pursuit-like contests typically related to the holidays. For example, near the Fourth of July she faxes 20 or so questions focused on Independence Day. Laura offers a little prize (like a couple of bags of chocolates or candies) to the top five winners. Doing business with Laura is fun and customers look forward to her next contest. The proof? She often gets a 40-50% response rate. Who do you think is remembered when it is time to order? 

5. Arrange for an Office Treat

For your top clients, arrange a Pizza Lunch or something similar. Call your client, tell them you'd like to 'buy them lunch' (even though you might be a thousand miles away) to say thanks for their business. Arrange a date and time, determine their favorite pizza place, call in the order with your credit card. Follow up shortly after the event and listen to them sing your praises. Or have a "Lunch and Learn" Session. Arrange for the pizza and then call in and use a speaker phone to provide tips and 'how to' information on your products or services.

6. Send a Dimensional Mailer

Some clients deserve a little something extra and memorable. Send them a book, or seasoning salt, or anything that has height, weight, scope and dimension. It might be related to work or to the season or specifically to the client. Don't be extravagant. The point is to have clients open up a package like it was their birthday. They will be wowed by your thoughtfulness, Yes, it can get a little pricey but your top clients WILL remember the gesture and the equity in you as a vendor will soar. (P.S., Resist the urge to send promotional products with your company logo. They're 'okay' but they don't leave much of an impression. Send something different that reflects you or your client).

7. Send a Postcard or a Greeting Card by Mail

Every now and then send a greeting card to your client. It might be holiday or sports related, or maybe an inspirational quote. Cards are different because create curiosity: 'Hey, who sent ME a card?' They get opened and remembered. They even pin them up at their desks. Check out www.followupdog.com (it's part of the Send Out Cards company) to learn how you can quickly, efficiently and cost effectively develop a powerful card campaign.

8. Make a Non-Sales Phone Call

Every now and then call your client and talk about anything but business. If you have something in common - e.g., the two of you are Florida Gator Fans or you both watch "Dancing with the Stars"- use it as a pre-text to call. Again, do NOT discuss business. Keep the call short. Have some fun or lament about a bad call, and then leave it at that. The idea is to show the client t that he relationship is more than the sum of their transactions. (P.S., Leave a fun voice mail message relating your common interest if you can't reach the client. E-mails work too.)

9. E-mail a Greeting Card

You can also e-mail a greeting card that has 'look' and the feel of a handwritten card. One company, www.youvegotcontacts.com, makes the whole effort fast and easy by providing a huge on-line selection of cards that you can customize and send out as quickly as you can click. Check them out and try their free offer.

10. Use a Combination of 4

It is important that you use at least four of these techniques in combination and never get dependent on a single tactic. Using four or more of these contacts ensures that your effort gets through all the "crap" that is vying for your client's attention. In addition, stick with the program. One or two touches are simply not enough. Staying in touch, building value and creating a relationship is a journey, not a destination. For your top clients, never let more than 3-4 weeks go by without some sort of friendly touch over and above your regular business calls. Your "B" clients should be touched about every 6-8 weeks over above business calls.


Staying in touch without being a pest requires time and effort but the rewards are considerable. Your efforts will typically translate into more loyal customers and bigger sales. Take the time and effort to add this strategy to your regular calls.

About The Author:

Teleconcepts Consulting works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products and services. For more information on consulting services and training programs, articles, and other resources visit www.teleconceptsconsulting.com or call 613 591 1998.

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