Never have a back-up plan! Although on the surface this seems counter intuitive, having a Plan B sucks valuable time, energy, and resources from your ultimate goal, Plan A, thereby making it less likely that your original goals and intentions will come to fruition. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison You flip a switch. A light goes on. The room is illuminated. So what? How many times a day do you do this? Well, it wasn’t always so easy. Just 150 years ago, lighting was dangerous. People used gas lamps or candles to brighten the night. Most had open flames. Plenty of homes and buildings burned to the ground ... often with their occupants inside. Thomas A. Edison changed everything. His 1880 patent filing for an incandescent … [Read more...]
No Thanks, I Don’t Want Your Business
It's perfectly OK to fire a prospect! The most precious commodity you have as a sales professional is time and you should be extremely selective with who and what you spend it on. With that in mind, it's OK to tell a prospect, "No thanks, I don't want your business. You know it’s close. Oh, so close. You can feel it. This time, you’ll finally get the sale from this prospect you’ve pursued for ... well … it kind of feels like forever. And then … another objection. Another delay. Another request for more information. In the ever-challenging world of sales, we’ve all had prospects like this. You meet with (or call) them numerous times. You provide reams of documentation. You display patience far beyond that of ordinary mortals, all while plastering an ever-harder-to-maintain … [Read more...]
Cold Calling: What is Your Why?
“The only thing you've got in this world is what you can sell.” – Charley, in “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller As challenging as sales can be, no one should wind up like poor Willy Loman. The main character in “Death of a Salesman” ends up beaten down – and ultimately dead – from his decades-ago mistake of choosing sales as a career. Willy went into sales for all the wrong reasons. Portraying the destructive effects the decision has on his family, Arthur Miller painted a dark, tragic tale of misguided ambition that has resonated throughout American literature, theater and film. Willy Loman never figured out the “why” of his chosen profession. He paid dearly. No, sales isn’t for everybody. Figure out your “why,” though, and sales can be a highly-lucrative, … [Read more...]
Cold Calling: It’s Not Just About the Numbers
Will you win based on offense or defense? When it comes to cold calling, you will often hear these words of wisdom: "It's not what you say, but how you say it." Although I agree with that statement, I would take it even further yet. “Numbers don’t lie” … or so an old saying goes. If you’re in sales, you know all about numbers. They drive your daily activities. They’re plastered everywhere on tracking sheets. They determine your success (or lack thereof). When you’re constantly dealing with quotas and goals, it’s easy to get zoned in on numbers. It’s easy to overlook that, behind every sales prospect, is a real live person (or people). Do so at your own peril. If this is your perspective, and your sales outreach uses cold calling, you’re not just dead on arrival – you’re dead … [Read more...]
Cold Calling: Is Your Approach All Wet?
Are you smart enough to come in out of the rain? Sure, this probably sounds like something your mom would have asked (sorry if that stirs up complex memories). Oh, and by the way … I’m presuming your answer is “yes.” There is a point here. You seek shelter from rain in a structure. It might be a house, or a garage, or an overhang, or even – if you’ve been caught in one of those occasional deluges at Summerfest – a beer tent. Life can get pretty damp without a structure or two nearby. Reminds me of several sales reps I’ve worked with, who felt like a black cloud appeared every time they picked up the phone to do some cold calling. First, it rains. Then it pours. They can’t get callbacks. They can’t get past the gatekeeper. If they actually get a decisionmaker on the line, … [Read more...]
Cold Calling: Are You Shooting in the Dark?
Rifle or shotgun: Which describes your approach to sales? If your answer is “Huh?” understand that the analogy refers to stark differences between the firearms. A rifle fires a bullet that must be perfectly aimed to hit its target. A shotgun shell contains pellets that spread into a pattern, requiring less accuracy to strike. In other words: Do you know exactly who your prospects are, or do you kind of fire away and hope that you’re close? If you’re like most self-assured sales reps, you answered “rifle.” You qualify your prospects. You’ve done the research. You know who you’re going after, and why. You don’t waste time on fruitless outreach. When the time comes to make those cold calls, you do so confidently … unless you don’t. As I’ve reiterated countless times, … [Read more...]
Cold Call Preparation = Cold Call Success
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin No doubt, Ben Franklin was one of the smartest guys who ever lived. You could fill books with his words of wisdom. He was a man of keen intellect, driven by unbridled curiosity and a driving need to shape the future. Need ultimate proof? Look no further than this quote. He was explaining cold calling more than a century before the telephone was even invented! How much more visionary, or proactive, can you get? If Ben Franklin was around today, I’d invite him to speak at my cold calling seminar or Cold Call University. His advice applies to many facets of life, of course. Preparation does beget success, no matter what you’re doing. Warm Up for Cold Calling If you’re a sales rep using cold calling, … [Read more...]
The Five Syllables of Sales Success
RECIPROCITY: “The quality or state of being reciprocal, meaning to give back, usually in kind or quantity.” Most people want to do the right thing. Or, at least they try. Wouldn’t you agree? Even in the rough-and-tumble, sometimes take-no-prisoners world of sales, most folks you encounter are decent human beings. Do someone a favor, and they’ll try to return it. Maybe not right away … but eventually. People understand reciprocity. They appreciate someone going the extra mile for them. They feel valued, which fulfills a basic human need. Reciprocity is (for most) the natural response. Return the favor, right? Note the “for most” qualifier. Despite the best intentions of personal generosity and societal norms, a small minority of people still won’t “get it.” They’re not … [Read more...]
Tune into Sales Success at WIFM
The way you hear some people talk about how difficult the sales profession is, you'd think they were trying to cure cancer or something. If you want to turbocharge your career, you need to tune into WIFM: What's In it For Me? Since people are driven by self-interest and self-preservation, the sooner you can stop selling and start giving, the sooner you will be at the pinnacle of your career. Have you ever tuned into the world’s oldest radio station? If not, you should. It’s critical to your sales success. Really, it’s key to success in dealing with people everywhere, no matter who they are. You’ll find this magic network at WIFM. Look it up. Tune in. Prepare to be catapulted to prosperity beyond your wildest dreams. Although it’s not a radio station, per se, WIFM is an … [Read more...]
Victims? Not at This Sales Party!
Victimhood sucks. Unfortunately, in the often hardscrabble world of sales, it’s all too easy to fall into it. We all know the verbiage: "He (or she) didn’t call back." "They put me off another two months." "I’m too busy to contact them again." The last one, especially, evidences a victim mentality. Busyness is an excuse – nothing more. It essentially tells a prospect, "I haven’t made you a priority." Well, who wants to buy from someone who doesn’t make them a priority? Look, as I’ve written before, sales isn’t easy. It takes persistence. Patience. Bounce-back ability. A thick skin, too. As we began addressing last month, being good at sales also means being good at something else: planning. Unless you’re selling toothpaste at Walgreens, most prospects won’t buy just … [Read more...]
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