May 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • It's Time For A Change by Eric Slife >>
  • 5 Things You Should Never Say To Your Customer by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • The Danger Of Assuming They Know What You Know by Art Sobczak >>
  • Selling a Price Increase: Is There a Good Time? By Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” >>
  • The Seven Deadly Sins Of Highly Ineffective Salespeople by Richard Farrell >>
  • Burn Your Boat by John Boe >>
  • 10 Secrets to Winning Your Customer’s Love by Tim Wackel >>


It’s Time for A Change
By Eric Slife

Companies probably aren’t banging down your door screaming to purchase your product or service. Needless to say, it’s increasingly more difficult to find active buyers, or at least companies that will be active in the near future. If you do receive a call from a potential prospect, they probably are speaking with numerous other vendors and/or have scoured the Internet. Bottom line, you can bet they have found a competitor who is willing to throw in the kitchen sink, free toaster, and whatever else they can dig up.

One of the best times to contact new prospects or current customers is when changes are taking place. I realize we all get bummed when we’re working with a prospect, and then all the sudden your back to square one because they have either left the company, or they have moved to a different position.

However; this can be a great opportunity, especially if you were struggling to move a sale forward. For example, for several years I had been working with a large company that I knew we could help. Unfortunately, I was stuck working with a guy who would drag me along, request information, state their interested, and then not return phone calls. I got to the point where I was begging him to tell me to get lost. However, shortly after he moved on, I scheduled a significant training opportunity with his replacement.

When this happens, contact your previous prospect. More often than not, they will provide you with some juicy, detailed information about what is happening, including internal politics. Next, get their permission to use their name when you contact their replacement. Finally, ask them if they wouldn’t mind contacting the person who has taken over their old position to recommend they talk with you. Better yet, ask if you can draft the email. All they will have to do is forward it to their new replacement. You save them time, you get to draft the email, and it has a much greater likelihood of being sent because they just have to forward it.

By emailing your new prospect first, it warms up the initial call. In addition, it provides your new prospect an opportunity to schedule a time when they can give you their full attention. To increase the likelihood of your new prospect scheduling an appointment with you, make sure you copy your previous prospect on your initial email. In addition, include your new contact’s name in the subject line along with your previous contact. For example:

  • John, Bill Smith recommended I contact you, or
  • John, Bill Smith suggested we talk.

Great opportunities also take place when company-wide changes occur. The sluggish economy has resulted in many companies consolidating, merging, or looking for ways to reduce expenses. This change often leads to a difference in direction, reorganization, and philosophy including what vendors to use. This is a great time to penetrate a competitive account because the new people moving in probably don’t have a strong relationship with the current vendor. Also, during change you can often get in front of someone who is a much higher decision maker. As a result, you may be able to greatly expand the size of the deal.

In order to take advantage of changes that are occurring within your target market, you need to be able to act fast. Sign up for Google Alerts. It’s absolutely free, and Google will email you anytime something new within a business appears. For example, I can be notified every time a new VP of Sales gets hired. I now receive a daily email that provides me links to any newspaper or Internet article that is relevant to my inquiry. This is also great to keep tabs on key accounts. Now, you’re not just calling “to check in,” but you have a specific purpose. Another good source is your local business journal. They too, will provide daily alerts, but they focus more heavily on local businesses.

In conclusion, don’t get discouraged when change takes place, but use it to your advantage. Second, begin to look for changes or trigger events through different services and when you’re talking with your current customers or prospects. This will get your foot in the door of more new accounts, and open up additional opportunities within an existing customer.     


About The Author: Eric Slife is president of Slife Sales Training, Inc. They specialize in providing a comprehensive online sales training program that can be customized to fit a businesses sales team’s specific needs regardless of size. Visit their website 

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5 Things You Should Never Say To Your Customer
by Jim Meisenheimer

In sales we tend to use our mouth more than our ears, and that's too bad.

It just seems to work that way.

I think you have to be careful because talking too much creates at least two problems for you.

The more you talk the less you'll learn about your sales prospect and or customer. And the less you learn about your customer the more assumptions you end up making.

Also, talking too much oftentimes makes you less attractive to your customer. I've often said that during a sales call, the less you say the smarter you'll sound.

But I digress. I really want to talk about five common phrases you should avoid using when you're talking to your sales prospects and customers.

Here they are!

1. "How soon do you need it?" Now to be sure, there is nothing sinister about this phrase. In fact, salespeople say this to demonstrate to their customers how interested they are in helping them.

It's a nice touch but it doesn't work in your favor. Here's why. When you ask someone the question, "How soon do you need it" what would you expect most people to say?

Of course they'll say something like, "I need it ASAP, I need it yesterday, or even today if possible."

When you ask this question your opening your calendar and giving it to another person. While it's good for the other person it usually ends up being not so good for you.

You would be better off starting with your calendar and then telling your customer when you would be able to do the task you're talking about.

2. "That our policy." Talk about an in your face phrase, it's hard to top this one. I can almost imagine the person standing tall, arms folded across his chest, a stern look and maybe even a foot stomp. When somebody says this he's declaring there's no wiggle room in this conversation.

So my advice is simply to avoid this choice of words if at all possible.

3. "We can't do that." Look, people are always making requests and yes some of them are even unreasonable and unrealistic. Here's something to think about. You can't do everything, but you can at least do something for your customer.

Let them know that when working with you they're in good hands. Just remember you never want to appear hopeless and helpless when you're talking with your customers.

Try using language like this, "We are unable to help you with this, but here's what we can do for you."

Doesn't this sound more helpful and professional? You bet!

4. "You'll have to." I really don't like someone saying this to me and somebody did just two days ago. We're having our house repainted. I'm in my office and the doorbell rings at the same time my phone is ringing.

So I go downstairs to see who's at my front door. It's a technician for the company that maintains our lawn service irrigation system. Usually, they need to test all the sprinkler heads. It was an extremely windy day and some of the sprinklers could interfere with the painters so I suggested he come back next week.

And that's when he said the dreaded words, "You'll have to" call the office to reschedule the appointment.

No - I'm the customer and I don't have to do anything.

When you say, "You'll have to" do something it's like somebody giving you an order and most folks don't like getting orders, I know I don't.

Just soften it up a bit and say something else.

5. "That's the manufacturer's responsibility." That's probably not exactly what your customer wants to hear especially if the customer gave you the money for the product.

Don't explain and don't complain your best bet is to do everything you can to fix your customers problem.

And of course do it with a smile and a happy face.

Language is the ultimate tool for sales professionals and it's just too bad that most salespeople don't pay enough attention to the words they use during their sales calls.

Your language says a lot about you.

However, if you're not careful, what it says may not be good.

So - choose your words carefully.

About The Author:

Make sure you check out Jim's Sales Trailblazer program:

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


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The Danger Of Assuming They Know What You Know
by Art Sobczak

On a flight connecting through Atlanta to a smaller city where we were holding my client's training workshop, hoping I wouldn't be riding a propeller-powered puddle-jumping commuter plane, or even a regional jet that I can't even fully stand up in, I asked the Delta gate agent, "Is this flight a larger jet?"

Without looking up he responded, "It's an MD88."

I stood reactionless, gazing at him as if he'd just spoken Mandarin (which, in effect, was the same). Looking up at me with one of those "You are a doofus" expressions, he continued, in a tone normally used with a kindergardner,

"Yes, it IS a REALLY big jet,"

I didn't feel like it was a stupid question. I don't know the types and models of planes I fly on, any more than I know how electricity gets to my outlets. My question was a direct and valid one; his response was one from his own aviation world.

Thing is, we are all guilty of this at times. In the great book, "Made to Stick," the authors call it "the curse of knowledge"... essentially knowing something so well, you can't imagine not knowing, or anyone not knowing it. And that's dangerous for us as communicators and sales pros.

If you question or make a presentation in terms that are foreign to the listener, you are begging for confusion, perhaps annoyance and resentment, and inaction.

For example, after the gate agent gave me the model number of the aircraft when I asked about the size of the plane, I could have faked it and said, "Ahhh, the MD88, a fine piece of engineering," but still being unsatisfied.

Customer and prospects do the same (or worse, for us) when faced with confusion. They do nothing . . . and likely quit paying what little attention might have been there to begin with.

Being imprecise can also get you into trouble. When you tell someone you'll get back to them "tomorrow," what does that mean? To them, it could mean early in the morning, particularly if they need some satisfaction. But for busy you, someone who is juggling 10 flaming sticks in the air at one time, responding by midnight tomorrow fulfills your obligation as far as you're concerned.

Be Specific With Your Questioning
Avoid using questions like,

"Does that happen a lot?"

"Do you experience that often?"

"Was there much of an impact?"

Think about if a customer answered "yes" or "no" to those questions. You wouldn't really know any more than before you asked. Instead, get better information by asking for specific information: "How often has that happened in the past three months?"

"What has been the impact on your department in terms of increased sales?"

Help Them Be More Specific

With Their Answers
Some folks are lazy thinkers and speak in vagaries. Others might be plain stingy with information. Prompt them for more specifics.

"Fill me in on some of the details."

"For example?"

"How much are we talking about?"

Present Specifics

After questioning, when it's finally time for you to mesmerize them with how you can solve their problem and make their life better, don't force them to mentally labor in order to understand how and why. For example, if you told them,

"You'd save money with our system. It would help you eliminate waste," they're left wondering how much, how, and why. Instead, paint the picture:

"Our system would help you mold your products by telling you precisely the amount of compound you need, instead of 'eyeballing' an estimate each time. Based on the numbers you gave me, your waste would be reduced by at least 39%."

Don't assume everyone knows what you know, and thinks the way you do. They don't. Be specific with your questions and answers, and you'll communicate more effectively and sell more.

Make it your best week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
13254 Stevens St.
Omaha, NE, 68137

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Selling a Price Increase: Is There a Good Time?
By Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter”

When is the best time to sell a price increase? I get asked this question a lot and my response is “right now.”

After I say this and see the expression on the person’s face, I then have to back up my response with my rationale.

Taking a price increase is not something to be taken lightly. It has to be done with confidence, and too often, salespeople will put off taking a price increase under some false belief that if they only wait a couple of weeks, some how things will be better.

Sure, waiting is an option, but often the only thing you’ll experience is more of a belief as to why you can’t take the increase, as well loss of the added revenue during that time frame.

My perspective is you can take a price increase anytime any of the following conditions occur:

1. A competitor has gone up in price.

2. You’ve incurred an increase in your costs.

3. Your customers have just taken their prices up.

4. Other key players in the industry are increasing their prices.

(article continued below . . .)

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(continued . . .)

These four reasons are all what I refer to as “market factors,” and any one of them is certainly reason enough to advance.

Keep in mind, though, that just because one of the above is true does not mean you should increase your price. It merely means the marketplace is giving you permission to do so.

Listed below are what I call “value factors.” These are the real reasons why you would want to take a price increase.

1. Has your customer realized added value during the past year from using your products and/or services?

2. Is your customer going to be realizing added value from what you provide them in the year to come?

3. Are there improvements in service or performance you can document that your customer would see value in?

4. Will you be able to increase your strategic importance to your customer in the year to come?

5. Can you show your customer how what you provide them will give them a competitive advantage or minimize their risk in the year to come?

These are the real reasons why you can take a price increase. The reason I say you can take an increase is because your customer is seeing increased value in what it is you provide.

When the customer can see increased value, you have every right to increase your price. Yes, there could very well be other strategic or even tactical reasons why you would still not want to take a price increase. Those questions are going to be answered only when assessing your overall business plan.

Again, my perspective is you should take advantage of increasing your price whenever possible.

Being proactive protects your bottom-line and provides you some protection against price increases with which you will have to deal on the production or operation side of what you make.

The more confident and comfortable you become in your pricing – including your price increases – the less likely you will be to devote precious effort and energy to worrying about your pricing. That effort and energy is better spent on showing your customer how the value of your product or service meets their needs and the benefits they desire.

About The Author:

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.” He is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects and close more profitable sales. To get a free weekly sales tip, visit Read the first chapter of his instant-classic “High-Profit Selling” here.

Copyright MMXI. Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

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The Seven Deadly Sins Of Highly Ineffective Salespeople by Richard Farrell

The seven deadly sins of highly ineffective salespeople are: control, narcissism, over-selling, too much emotion, need for approval, lack of personal responsibility and undo excess (time, information, persistence). These sins only become problematic when they are taken to extremes. I purposely choose this list of transgressions because they are non-intuitive, contrary and controversial. They underline some of the most divisive beliefs that will make a salesperson’s career a living hell. I could have shown the typical list of too much talking, not listening, no sales process, etc., but they are pedestrian and predictable.

The original seven deadly sins are: superbia, ira, invidia, avaritia, gula, acedia, and luxuria. Or, in order: pride, anger, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, and lust. So here are Tangent Knowledge System’s seven deadly sins of highly ineffective salespeople:

The Sin of Control

Savvy salespeople know that the way you gain control is… you give it up. When we are too controlling in the sales process, we end up being controlled by the control we seek. Seeking control becomes counter-productive and unrealistic.

The average salesperson tries too hard; the exceptional salesperson doesn’t. Intelligent and selective effort attracts customers; over-the-board effort and control detracts. Salespeople who learn to adopt this posture become lazy like a fox.

We think we are in control of a sales call, but we really aren’t. We think we know what is best for our customers, but we don’t. We think we can accurately interpret their lack of responses, but we can’t. The good news is that once we realize all this, the mystery of selling is greatly diminished.

We mistakenly confuse giving up control for weakness and seizing control for strength. Actually the inverse is true. “When you accept that there is no effective way to control what another thinks, and that all attempts at such control simply introduce static into your communication, then you are better prepared to deal with people with differing points of view (diversity),” says Susan Campbell.

I like to refer to giving up control as the non-selling posture: Nothing to prove, nothing to disprove. It is non-dogmatic and non-authoritative. It allows customers the authority, the control and the independence to seek their own answers and conclusions independent of the salesperson’s selling agenda.

In sales, it is imperative that we give up control and temper our need for recognition, validation, to stand out and to truly be heard and listened to, so that we don’t compete and overshadow our customer’s exact same needs. Nothing strengthens your customer’s sense of being in control and sense of self than being right. Strive to consistently make your customer right. Customers will have a strong need to make you wrong when they don’t feel in control or feel they are right.

So the purpose of the non-selling posture is to get your customer to change their ego-state to a less demanding and inflexible posture. Customers are far more willing to be open, frank and share the truth with you if they believe they are in control. The non-selling posture works so well because it asks so little in return.

The non-selling posture takes the position that you don’t know what is best for your customer. As long as you don’t know what is best for them, you’ll spend a lot of time, care, empathy and focus on trying to find out. The better you get at selling this way, the less you appear to be selling. Average salespeople use their ego to sell, and it gets them only average results.

The ultimate journey to giving up control is giving your customer permission and in some cases, encouragement to give you a “no.” If you think giving up an addiction like crack is difficult, try giving up control and going for “no.” “No, the word you have been trained to fear, is, in fact, the word that will change your life for the better, forever,” says Jim Lamp.

The problem with the way most salespeople sell is that the more enthusiastic, positive, best foot forward, excited, optimistic and, yes, subjective you are, the more vulnerable you will be to getting “yes’d to death.” Traditional selling is unfortunately fear-based selling. It is eternal optimism run amok. A non-selling posture invites “no” as a viable and realistic outcome. The non-selling posture and giving up control is built on the foundation of good business decisions and not rampaging emotions, wild assumptions and unrealistic expectations. If you can’t get a customer to commit to say “yes,” see if you can get them to commit to say “no.”

The Sin of Selling

Selling by its very nature produces so often the exact opposite effect. Selling is repelling. The harder you sell, the harder it is to sell. Selling has nothing to do with selling; selling has everything to do with asking thought-provoking questions and honoring your customer with incisive listening.

Feature and benefit selling represents the granddaddy of them all as the biggest offender of the sin of selling. Most companies and their salespeople covet their value-add, their features and benefits, and their value proposition as if it were the Holy Grail. The reality is that all value propositions are inherently valueless. The feature and benefit style of selling that has served companies so well in the past, no longer works. It is tried, but no longer true.

Value-added (feature and benefits) selling is rooted in old economic conditions using time-honored traditions; a sales strategy from another era entirely; some unimaginable distant epoch of 5-10 years ago. This artificial style of selling that, until recently, has withstood the test of time only homogenizes your offering. Value proposition selling is just roll-the-dice selling; you are on autopilot and you cross your fingers and show up and throw up. It is driven by the love to talk and the fear to listen. It is jargon on crack.

Premature presentation syndrome is typified by ready, fire, and then aim. Shoot and ask questions later. You are simply unleashing the product hammer and as Abraham Maslow stated so eloquently, “if you only have a hammer, you tend to see everything [problem] as a nail.”

Salespeople operate under the quaint notion that it is their God-given right to sell their features and benefits. Since it states in the Sales Constitution that all products are not created equal, it is your solemn right and salesperson duty to show customers the correct way to the Promised Land. However, the reality is that no one has the corner on absolute truth.

The irony is that all companies, big or small, sophisticated or unworldly, in all industries, covering all products and all services, intangibles or tangibles, sell the same way. They sanitize and whitewash their offering by using common standards, open architecture specifications that multiple vendors can easily meet. In the end, it becomes a wash. The very thing that feature and benefit selling tries to protect against, it reinforces. Salespeople’s self-indulgent presentations reflect mostly minimum standards and lowest common denominators for being considered or just staying in business. It is truly a zero-sum game.

In the knowledge-based economy, the value of a salesperson is judged not on what they know about their product, but on what they can learn about their customers’ problems and critical success factors. Unlike the Dark Ages, leading with your product information and solutions is now looked upon with suspicion.

In the Internet era, sales organizations can no longer get away with placing pathetic faith and stock in their products and solutions. We eulogize and romanticize our products and service offerings as if they were the end all, the real thing. We can no longer afford to treat customers as Pavlovian dogs that are trained to respond to only one stimulus – our features and benefits. All products and services are intrinsically valueless. We need to put more faith and value into our customers’ problems and their corresponding consequences, and learning the intricacies of their business.

The reason sales can appear to be so challenging and difficult is because we carry this heavy burden of proof around. The more we think we must sell our product’s features and benefits, the less we sell. It is a cruel joke of the universe. Ironically, the reason we do not change is because we would feel so guilty at how easy it is by not selling – it would grate against our Puritan work ethic. We would feel so cheated and shortchanged by patiently sitting back, listening, observing, questioning, and letting the customer proactively do all the selling as to why or why not they would be open to changing. What would you do if you no longer had to be in charge? We take the path of most resistance because we feel in control, we hate to listen, we are self-absorbed and we love to convince and persuade, even when it is not necessary.

As soon as salespeople conclude that they have nothing inherently special or unique to sell, that is when they will truly differentiate themselves from the competition and not have to rely on a flawed style of selling, such as features and benefits selling. We should no longer treat our product as if it were the means to an end. Our product and its attributes are simply a vehicle to help us build trust and respect by learning about our customer’s business.

The Sin of Excess

Persistence, time and overload of information represent the sins of excess. Any positive action taken to an extreme produces the exact opposite effect. That is the exact case with the sin of excess. The antidote for the sin of excess is, less is more.

Too many well-intended salespeople have been schooled in the notion that a good salesperson never quits. Actually, the difference between a professional and an amateur is that a professional gives up early, easily and effortlessly on losing causes. The problem is that too many salespeople use persistence as a tool to mask poor selling skills and strategies.


Raw, indiscriminate persistence doesn’t work like it used to work in the information economy because of the sheer technological barriers. How can you hope to be efficient and effective while at the same time be persistent with customers who hide behind email, national do not call lists, voicemail, caller ID and an electronic secretary that has you announce your name.

For persistence to be effective, it has to be targeted and focused. I know way too many salespeople who are extremely persistent with customers who have no money, no authority, no budget and no problems, but are more than happy to lead these gullible salespeople astray. Also, the harder you pursue, the more you try to control, the less your customer feels in control, the more they feel compelled to push you away. “The salesman who knows when to walk away, lives to sell another day,”says John Klymsryn.

Too many salespeople are guided by a private code or gospel of productivity, aimless busy work or avoidance activity. When you unshackle yourself from a superstitious reverence for the mysterious god named productivity (persistence), you can actually get a lot of focused work done.

Customers generally have stronger resistance than salespeople have stamina. “Decision makers vote with their bodies. If they don’t return your phone calls, or get back to you when they promise to, they’re trying to tell you something. Their bodies are voting no. So-called persistence is nothing more than a desperate need to find out what’s going on and to be in control when all evidence tells you that nothing is going on,”says Bill Brooks.


The sin of excess also applies to wasteful allocation of time. We spend too much time with the wrong opportunities and not enough time with the right opportunities.

Ever-shortening product life cycles due to rapid technological advancements in the global economy are causing virtually every product and service to quickly become a commodity. Given the warp speed economy in which we do business, nothing is more important in salespeople’s work life than time.

Time is your single most important leverage. Unfortunately, it is a depreciating asset that is non-recoverable. Once you’ve given it away, you can never get it back. Since time is money, you should be discriminating as to whom, when and under what circumstances you should allocate it. Not only do we have to manage spending time on the right people, we also have to work to shorten the length of time it takes to sell to people. Equally important is the time it takes to lose deals. “Bad news is good news when it is received early,” says Bill Brooks. Too often salespeople operate under the belief that “my time isn’t as valuable as yours.” They would rather patiently wait for the occasional bones or crumbs that customers throw their way than go out and look for better opportunities. Customers receive this unintended message and they have no problem having you go on unending fools’ errands. Many salespeople would rather chase opportunities in the face of insurmountable odds and face inevitable failure than to prospect for new business. A lot of misdirected use of time is simply avoidance activity. There will always be more opportunities to invest in than there are time and resources. Therefore, salespeople should be discriminatory and selective with their time.

Time kills all deals, and shortening the selling cycle is critical to managing time. The longer deals sit out there, the greater the chance they will go south. Most salespeople operate under the exact opposite assumption. They operate under a false sense of security that if they persist, outlast the competition, show the customer they care, and are assertive, they will ultimately prevail. In reality, this is simply not true. Professional salespeople are good at qualifying their opportunities and cutting their losses when they are operating under non-optimal conditions. They know there are only two winners in a competitive selling situation: the salesperson who was awarded the deal and the salesperson who lost early and saved time.

In today’s marketplace, selling is more about sifting, sorting and selecting opportunities that have the greatest likelihood of closing, as opposed to always trying to sell, convince, persuade and cajole. Salespeople who take on a business owner mentality look at acquisition costs as overhead that needs to be judiciously guarded and protected. Unfortunately, 80% of what salespeople are spending their time on has a low value. Working in this way is a waste of your most valuable asset of time, and is not consistent with a business owner’s mentality.

Time should also be viewed as an inventory control system. A business owner who looks at inventory has one thing in mind: turn it as quickly as possible, because time is money. A salesperson with a business owner mentality sees their sales pipeline in the same way. They must move their customers quickly and profitably through their pipeline while at the same time keeping them comfortable and feeling no pressure. A poor inventory control system in sales is a surplus in the pipeline of accounts that aren’t viable, closeable and moving in a timely fashion. Time-oriented salespeople know that the longer it takes to sell to customers, the less time and money they have to invest elsewhere. “Time becomes your enemy because it downgrades the value of your proposals, the likelihood that priorities will shift and the money your customers can save or gain by your proposal,” says Jim Holden.


The last sin of excess is misallocation of information. Salespeople give too much, too soon without any consideration as to its cost.

Information is your intellectual capital. Salespeople with a business owner mentality plays their cards close to the chest and judiciously guard and protect their information and dispense with it sparingly. As John Hirth says, “What you know can hurt you.” The problem with all of our precious and hard-won information is that there is an over-tendency to want to give it out early, often and prematurely, resulting in salespeople being reduced to “free consultants.” To minimize free consulting, guard your asset of information. You allocate your information when your customer is in a position to make decisions. Your information represents your leverage and control points in the sales cycle. In the past, salespeople’s value was firmly established by the information they brought to the table. The information economy has changed all that. Since information is accessible freely and widely, salespeople’s value proposition has been neutralized and marginalized. Salespeople’s mandate now should be to get information, not give it. This totally changes the dynamics of a typical sales call.

You are now paid and rewarded for your questions, not your answers. No longer can you afford to build a product case; you have to build a business case that is heavily influenced by your ability to garner important, privileged and sensitive information from your customer.

Selling is more about what you don’t know versus what you do know. The customer’s information carries the most weight. Yet, salespeople act as if their information is king and they invariably overplay their hand, in turn diminishing the importance and dignity of their customer.

The Sin of Lack of Personal Responsibility

Salespeople who don’t take personal responsibility for their results don’t grow… period. The beauty of not taking personal responsibility is that you don’t have to change, and you get the distinct pleasure of pointing the finger.

The more you justify your failures and point the finger, the more you hold on to them, the greater the likelihood you will simply recycle them. Taking ownership and responsibility always empowers us. Denying responsibility will always disempower us.

The ability to take responsibility also allows you to not take things so personally. When you take 100% responsibility for rejection in sales, it can be very liberating because all our negative thoughts that we entertain are always putting the blame elsewhere. Since our own self-worth only comes from the internal, blaming outside circumstances is simply giving up responsibility. As Paul Ferrini states, our merit is the cause of everything it feels and thinks. Our mind therefore is the only thing we can legitimately blame.

The Sin of Emotion

Salespeople who can’t control their emotions lose perspective in a sales call. They lose objectivity and patience and can’t properly determine if they have a qualified customer. Because they are so emotionally involved, they don’t listen and they miss out on critical information.

Salespeople who are emotionally invested in a deal tend to be overly persistent, waste time, and crash and burn when they get negative information. Keep in mind, the salesperson that is the least emotionally invested in the outcome of a sale will consistently outsell the salesperson who is the most enthusiastic and gung-ho.

Salespeople who aren’t emotionally invested in the sales interaction are neutral, unbiased and aren’t afraid to hear “no” – they actually encourage it in some cases. They sell from a business strategist position and build a business case for change, not a product case. They have a quiet confidence instead of an overly emotional posture, so they minimize all the typical static of self-talk: “I wonder when they’ll make up their mind; what if I don’t make this sale; what am I going to spend my commission check on; what am I going to do if they want to think it over?”

The Sin of Narcissism

Narcissistic salespeople are self-centered, company and product-centered and lack self-awareness. They believe in the art of enthusiasm in a sales call. They aren’t aware that this traditional sales strategy has a fatal flaw – you can’t be enthusiastic and gung-ho and be customer-centric and understanding at the same time. How can you ask insightful questions that get to the core of your customer’s business and problems and be enthusiastic and upbeat at the same time? It’s totally out of context.

The Sin of Approval

The classic portrayal of a salesperson is someone who is very enthusiastic and friendly; wants people to like them; is persuasive and talkative; and is intelligent and persistent. The problem is, most salespeople have taken this art form to an extreme. They aren’t willing to challenge customers and risk losing approval. They avoid asking tough questions that will get them the truth. They shy away from healthy confrontation and getting their own needs met as opposed to getting the more important need of making the sale. They are more concerned that customers like them rather than respect them. These types are constantly used by their customers for their expertise and solutions.


The sevens sins of highly ineffective salespeople represent mindsets and strategies that are flawed and put salespeople at a severe disadvantage. These transgressions put too much focus on the wrong party: the salesperson and their product. In order to be more productive and effective salespeople need to be able to maximize their time and manage their information more effectively. And they need to give up the hope of controlling the sales process and being too emotionally vested in the outcome of the sale.

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


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Burn Your Boat
By John Boe

I believe that the great NFL Hall of Fame coach, Vince Lombardi, had it right when he said, "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." Do you agree with Coach Lombardi, or are you the type of person who has difficulty staying focused and keeping commitments? Do you allow the negative influences of fear, anxiety, self-doubt and worry to dominate your thinking and sabotage your results?

Sadly, most people fail to achieve their goals, not because they're lazy or lack self-motivation, but because they were never "fully committed" to succeed! I can't think of a single great achievement that has ever been attained without first a plan of action and then an unshakable commitment to its accomplishment.

Walt Disney was arguably one of the most creative dreamers and determined men of the twentieth century. Walt understood the power of commitment and would frequently tell those around him, "When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."

The ancient Greek warriors were both feared and respected by their enemies. In battle, the Greeks established a well-deserved reputation for their unsurpassed bravery and unshakable commitment to victory. The key to their overwhelming success on the battlefield had far more to do with how the Greek commanders motivated the warriors than it did with issues of tactics or training. The Greeks were master motivators who understood how to use a "dramatic demonstration" to infuse a spirit of commitment into the heart of every warrior.

Once the warriors had been offloaded from their boats onto their enemy's shore, the Greek commanders would shout out their first order, "burn the boats!" The sight of burning boats removed any notion of retreat from their hearts and any thoughts of surrender from their heads. Imagine the tremendous psychological impact on the soldiers as they watched their boats being set to the torch. As the boats turned to ash and slipped quietly out of sight into the water, each man understood there was no turning back and the only way home was through victory.

In your sales career your battles are not fought with weapons on foreign shores, but within the confines of your own mind. A truly committed salesperson does not have the luxury or the time for the self-indulgence of negative thinking.

The true underlying motivation for all success is a deep and unwavering commitment to the task at hand. The sales profession is a demanding and challenging career, but it is also personally rewarding and financially lucrative for those who are fully committed to becoming successful. If you are being pushed around mentally by thoughts of fear, anxiety, self-doubt and worry, it's time to "burn your boat" and become fully committed to your sales career!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, and then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. John is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have John speak at your next event, visit or call 937-299-9001. Free Newsletter available on website.


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10 Secrets to Winning Your Customer’s Love
by Tim Wackel

Be prepared!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for almost 100 years.

So why in the world would most sales professionals show up unprepared? You see it all the time—they dash in from the parking lot with a handful of color brochures but no plan on how to engage. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.

Why do you and a lot of other sales reps fail to prepare? Because it is easier to talk about you, your company and your products than it is to prepare to have a conversation about THEM!

Here’s the big question: what are you doing to prepare that if your clients knew you were doing it, they would be more inclined to have an open and honest dialogue with you?

The next time you meet with a prospect or client, open the conversation with this simple phrase: “In preparing for this meeting I took some time to…” Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last rep who opened their meeting by announcing that they were just “checking in” to see if anything new was going on.

The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula—so obvious that most sales reps ignore it.

Here are ten key elements that you can use to create your own successful pre-call habits:

1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.

2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights.

3. Define the exact purpose of this call. What are the goals for this interaction?

4. Identify the benefits of your meeting. The benefits need to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!

5. Prepare ideas that hold value for your customer. Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…not on your latest product!

6. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective buyers will respect and remember you!

7. Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the appointment. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.

8. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.

9. Plan how you will end the meeting or call and decide what agreements you need to ask for.

10. Remind yourself to be warm, friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your prospects are constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they believe you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you. It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

The determination to win is important in selling…but the determination to prepare to win is an essential part of getting to the top!

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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