How Joe the Sales Pro Wins TOUGH SALES (and you can too)

Let’s take two people: Joe and Barb.

Joe sells dental products for a major dental supply house. Barb is the buyer for a dental group with offices in a three-state region.

Joe is an optimist. He is an idea guy. He sees the big, beautiful picture.

Barb is cautious. On her twice-annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for industry conventions, she will invest no more than $20 per day (all in nickels) with the ‘one-armed bandits.’

You’ll find Joe at the roulette table with chips piled in front of him.

What happens when Joe calls on Barb to introduce a new product – a tooth polish twice as expensive as most, but made from all organic components?

Will Barb take a chance on ‘excellent opportunity to be first in the region to get on board’? Or will she play it safe and avoid investing in an unproven product?

Care to vote on the outcome?

Yep. Joe lost – right?

How Joe the Sales Pro Overcomes Bias Opposition.Click To Tweet

But what if Joe is a salesperson armed with a knowledge of cognitive bias?

Barb’s thinking is characterized by ‘loss aversion bias.’ She is hyper-focused on avoiding loss. She is a shrewd buyer for her company and exacts the most for the least from every sales transaction.

Joe knows this. He has seen her ‘gamble’ in Vegas, and he has sat across the desk from her often in his regular visits to her office.

And Joe gets more of Barb’s business than any other salesperson in the region.Continue reading

Are You For Me or Against Me? A Trust-Based Approach to Sales

Think back to high school.

Were you a “Chief,” a “Bear,” a “Pirate”?

At my own dear school, we were called the “Will Rogers Ropers.”

Do you still recall the chants and songs  you would do at your games?

I do.

Who were your ‘arch rivals’?

Chances are good that would be the nearest school with teams in the same division – you ‘hated’ them and they ‘hated’ you.

As a ‘Roper,’only a traitor would actually make friends with one of those Memorial Chargers [ :-))

From the playground, to high school,to college and beyond – we are biased

We’ve been studying ‘cognitive bias’ as it relates to the sales process and those responsible for sales, and we’ve discovered that cognitive biases are default responses that can help make (or break) sales.Continue reading

Are You Always Right?

I’m right.

You’re wrong.

Think back over the past couple of weeks and consider this tell-tale question: In your relations with others — how often were you right (and they were wrong)?

Be honest, now.

This is information for your ears only. You don’t have to share it with anyone.

Are you right MOST of the time?

How often do you tell someone (and really mean it)… “You’re right. I’m wrong.”?

We don’t realize how wrong we often are

The mind (your mind and my mind included) is a marvelous tool. It is way more powerful than ANY computer, and it deals with an enormous amount of information CONSTANTLY.

Temperature, motion, color, names, plans, weather, body functions, hearing – your mind monitors EVERYTHING and filters out the inconsequential.

The enormity of the data your mind processes is definitely ‘mindboggling.’

But the mind is SO SMART that it often outsmarts itself. (Does that ring a bell at all?)

The enormity of the data your mind processes is definitely ‘mindboggling.’Click To Tweet

Your mind values quick over correct

To deal with the never-ending onslaught of data being presented, the mind develops short-cuts — “biases,” if you will.

Cognitive biases (i.e. “thinking preferences”) help the mind cope.

For instance, have you ever driven somewhere familiar and realized you don’t even REMEMBER the trip? Do you ever set something down and not remember where you put it?Continue reading

One Thing You MUST KNOW to Succeed in Business

DID YOU KNOW an excellent primer on sales and sales presentations is as close as your television set or computer screen?

I’m talking about ABC’s Shark Tank. Perhaps no other show better exemplifies the principles of how to succeed … or fail … in the business of sales.

I watched an episode this week, for instance, that highlighted some of the ideas we’ve spoken about recently.

Here’s what I mean:

A year or so ago, a gentleman from Illinois … a very likeable guy, named Dave Alwan … approached the Sharks, hoping to walk away with investment funding to grow his business.

Dave is a provider of “butcher shop quality” meats, and the Sharks RAVED about his product when they taste tested it.

Unfortunately, though, Dave didn’t have a sales strategy in place, prompting Shark Kevin O’Leary to remark, “I can’t call your business plan bad … because there isn’t one.”

Mark Cuban piped in with, “[Your product] is great! But coming in unprepared doesn’t cut it … I’M OUT!” (The two most dreaded words on the show.)

Like many who appear before the Sharks to seek capital, Dave walked away with nothing (but experience) to show for his efforts.

He wasn’t hearing “No” forever … only for this time.Click To Tweet

But Dave Alwan learned the lesson … and he returned

Earlier, I wrote about the importance of resisting the temptation to instantly become defensive when your offer meets resistance or is rejected outright. Defensiveness leads you into “convince mode,” then the sales conversation becomes a battle – where you are pitted against the prospect to see who will win and who will lose.

To Dave’s credit, he avoided defensiveness. He knew he had “lost the sale,” but he also realized he hadn’t lost the potential. He wasn’t hearing “No” forever … only for this time.

Dave knew he was capable of doing better. He went back to the ranch, did his homework, and came bouncing back with a solid plan … a STRATEGY for SUCCESS.

Facing the Sharks again, Dave said this:

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The Essence of Trust-Based Selling

Timid salesmen have skinny kids (Zig Ziglar)

We know that a “calm, cool, and collected” state of mind is ideal for a Trust-Based sale – but FEAR tends to make that a difficult state of mind to attain.

It is often said the fear of public speaking leads the list of barriers to success, but I’ll wager the FEAR of SALES has it beat!Click To Tweet

Let’s look at a few tactics to overcome this fear of sales … or to at least manage the fear so you can more easily be in a calm, cool, and collected state of mind!)

Once of the reasons I am such a firm believer in the Trust-Based Selling approach is because the MINDSET behind Trust-Based Selling RELIEVES the STRESS/FEAR factor … once you truly understand it.

Begin by shifting your mindset

Whether in a private session, on a coaching call with a client, at an onsite training, or during a speaking engagement – one of the first things I teach is the importance of the MINDSET behind Trust-Based Selling.

It is this: The Goal is to discover the TRUTH of your potential client’s situation. The goal is NOT to make the sale.

The Goal is to discover the TRUTH of your potential client’s situation. The goal is NOT to make the sale.Click To Tweet

Once you understand that foundational principle, you give yourself (and your client) permission to relax.

Yes, not focusing on making a sale seems counter-intuitive. Most people believe that selling is about manipulating someone into doing something they don’t want to do. With an attitude like that, there is BOUND to be STRESS.Continue reading

Getting Testimonials the Easy Way

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business (Henry Ford)

What is the best way to approach clients with testimonial requests?

My client, Joie, wanted to know how to take the stress out of asking for testimonials. Let’s look at a way to do just that.

It is easy to see asking for a testimonial as a self-serving process. That leads to anxiety and a lack of confidence. I wanted to help Joie see the process differently.

Making the connection

Please note that, by using my working relationship with Joie as an example of how to get a testimonial, I also gained a testimonial for myself.

Nothing like “Two birds with one stone” … right?

Well, let’s make that “Many birds with one stone” and let you look in on how this simple, yet powerful, system works.

Testimonials are incredibly effective sales tools, but getting them can be difficult

Joie received verbal praise for her work on two recent projects; she then wondered how to get permission to transform those spoken votes of confidence into text, so she could place them on her website.

As with sales in general, asking for testimonials can feel uncomfortable – ESPECIALLY when we make it all about us. There is no reason to do that, though.

A different way to proceed

I first described the basics of the process to Joie.

The steps to effective testimonial gathering are:

  • Thank the client for expressing his or her appreciation for your work. That feedback helps you make sure you are on track.
  • Enlist the client’s help with a cause. There are others who could benefit from your services, but prospects want proof that you can deliver. Assurances from a peer will always trump what a person or company says about themselves.
  • Suggest a simple means of proceeding. When you ask the client to send a testimonial, it puts the burden on the client. When you ask for a brief interview, all the client needs to do is talk with you for a few minutes.
  • Interview the client, using the template that follows.
  • Confirm industry, position, name, company, and where any links should point. There are times when your client may prefer (and that’s fine!) you to NOT cite a name and/or company. In that case, you can state the industry and position instead – maybe even the initials. The main thing is that your client feel absolutely comfortable with the idea.
  • Thank the client and once again confirm you have permission to use excerpts from the interview as testimonials in various media.

I then walked Joie through a sample interview. Following is a basic transcript of that discussion.

Debbie: Joie, people sometimes find it hard to acknowledge they are struggling with sales. You have made tremendous progress, and I know your experience can benefit others. May we talk a little about our work together?

Joie: Absolutely.

Debbie: Joie, regarding sales, where were you when we first started working together?

Joie: I was really struggling with sales in my business. People loved what I did, but I wasn’t getting enough clients.

Debbie: (Expanding the interview) Was there one area, in specific, you were struggling with? What was your biggest struggle?

Joie: I could have great conversations with people, but I wasn’t closing them. I could schedule the sales conversation, but I wasn’t getting many sign-ups.

Debbie: Once we started working together, what started to shift for you? Where was the biggest impact?

Joie: It was POSITIONING: The wording, how I talked, and every part of my presentation. You taught me to position myself as an expert … so that other people could see the value and expertise I have.

Debbie: How did that empower you? Where was the impact?

Joie: I gained a lot of self-confidence. I recognized my own value in a new way. By trying to make it clear to other people, I made it clear to myself! Because of that, I entered into conversations with a lot more confidence and self-assurance. People began responding to that.

Debbie: With what you have learned and its effect on your sales, how do you think that is going to impact your business in the future?

Joie: No doubt, I’ll continue to build much more business. I’ve also become clear on who I market to. I market much more specifically than I have in the past. Your coaching has already had impact, and it will continue to well into the future. I have hired many other coaches in the past, but nobody ever approached sales the way you do. It has totally shifted my relationship to the word ‘sales’ – I feel different – I’m changed by the process you walked me through, and that change has made me more powerful and more confident.

Debbie: Joie, there are many people who are still just like you were. They lack self-confidence and they are not getting nearly as much business as they could. If someone like that asked you about working with me, what would you say?

Joie: If you have the chance to work with Debbie, absolutely do it! Her coaching was the key to turning everything around in my business, and I highly recommend her and the approach she teaches. Debbie doesn’t concentrate on selling. She concentrates on creating value for people, and she certainly has created value for me. When you create value for people, they WANT to work with you.

Was that difficult?

That is what I asked Joie next … and, of course, she said “absolutely not.” Her recollections of our work together – and the successes she had experienced – served to solidify the results and further deepen our professional relationship.

By interviewing the person offering a testimonial, pulling out the pertinent data, and getting permission to publish it, you can secure a steady flow of powerful testimonials.

Here are the strategic questions to use during a testimonial interview

  • What was the client’s situation before working with you?
  • What happened after you began working with the client? What shifted?
  • What was the impact of that shift? How did it affect the client’s business?
  • What would you client say to someone considering working with you about that issue?

Thank you to executive coach extraordinaire, Joe Seldon, for allowing me to use this transcript as an example.

If You Don’t Have This, Your Business Will Fail

An Open Interview With Debbie White

Note: This is the first in a series of articles about how you can develop a sales strategy that really works. This week, I met with a freelance writer who sometimes wonders whether leaving the security of a corporate salary was such a wise idea. Don is an accomplished writer, copywriter, and marketing consultant – but he struggles with sales. In this first meeting, we identified the root of the problem: If success is just sales – then failure is a lack of sales.

How to get started with Sales Success

Don: Debbie, in your talk, Three Core Principles to Mastering Trust-Based Selling, you say, “Success is just Sales.” That concept seems a bit far-fetched; I mean success is getting up early, working hard, and knowing your stuff … right?

Debbie: Don, there are many salespeople and service professionals who are at the desk before sunrise, and they don’t let up until after nightfall. Many of them have advanced degrees in management, marketing, or another discipline – yet, when they divide total revenue by total hours invested, they aren’t doing much better than any other laborer. They just can’t seem to get ahead.

Don: I can confirm that, Debbie. When you’re a freelancer or commissioned representative – with expenses and overhead to cover – there can sometimes be a pitiful few dollars left to take home.

I thought the American Dream was to work hard and prosper, not to work hard and starve!

The Key Ingredient

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When You Get THIS, You Get More Business

Sales skills are the most important capabilities you can possess. They give power to everything else you do.

How to Sell … Without Selling!

No Salesmen Today

Creative Commons by John (Flickr)

Business owners often believe sufficient marketing efforts can replace a sales strategy. That’s a risky position to take, though.

Marketing is concerned with getting the phone to ring. Sales is the process of discovering whether or not you can help the caller solve a problem or reach a goal.

The two work in tandem, but marketing, without sales, is like investing in a car – but deciding NOT to spend any money on gas. You will be sitting in an expensive shell that can’t go anywhere.

Do you HATE sales?

It is rare to find an entrepreneur who likes the sales process. Many absolutely dread having to talk to potential customers about buying their products or services.

The tighter you hold on to the idea that the sales process is distasteful – the more you will needlessly struggle to leverage and grow your business.

Good news: You can change that!

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The TRUST Factor … The Secret to LOVING SALES

My favorite speaking engagements, over the past few months, were Suzanne Evans’ Be the Change event, in Las Vegas, and Angelique Rewers’ Inside Edge, in Scottsdale.

At both gatherings, I shared with participants that there is a far better way of selling than the traditional old-school approach.

For far too long, the sales process has been practiced like a manipulative game, with lots of built-in pressure and deceptive schemes. 

Some of the attendees at my recent talks received a digital copy of something powerful. I have truly been amazed with all of the feedback I’ve received from those who absorbed the lessons contained in The Answer is YES … Mastering Trust-Based Selling.

Somehow, that one message has quickly enabled listeners to see selling in a different way. Many say they are feeling better about their jobs and their abilities – and that those changes are being reflected in their sales.

When you discover something that can help you feel better AND help you make more money, you are on the road to a much better quality of life.

(At the end of this article, you will find a link to download your own copy of The Answer is YES … Mastering Trust-Based Selling. It is my gift to you for being a loyal friend.)

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EVERY Word You Speak MATTERS!

think_before_you_speakTip #3 – THINK About the Words You Choose!

Every word matters.  Mistrust can happen in a split second – and it happens at the moment your prospect’s intuition tells them that your agenda is about you – not them.

Every word you speak in the sales conversation, in your sales presentation and in your marketing messages does one of three things: 

The words you speak either … 1) move your prospect FORWARD …2) are neutral and have NO IMPACT … or 3) move your prospect AWAY from you – they step BACK.

Without even being aware of it, we often use words and phrases that categorize us as someone who has the intention of ‘making a sale’ and we begin moving our prospect away from us from the beginning.

The bigger problem is the vast majority of people spend the greatest part of their sales conversation or presentation saying too much that is neutral, which does absolutely nothing to move the prospect forward in the buying decision. That’s what happens when you make the mistake of having no clear plan in your presentations and conversations. 

What to Do Instead: Great marketers – great salespeople – great communicators – listen to what their prospects are saying both verbally and nonverbally.  Then they take those cues and use them to mold their marketing messages and sales presentations.   Make a sincere commitment to really understand your potential client’s true core problems and don’t approach the conversation with self-focused agendas.  That’s when you’ll see that people will trust you enough to move forward with you in discovering the solution your product or service offers THEM to solve THEIR problem.Continue reading