Archive for May, 2006

X-Men & Mutant Reps

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Let’s face it. The world thinks that sales people are mutants anyway.

In this third X-Men movie, a group of influential people have decided that a good solution to handling mutants is to remove their powers, and an anti-body is formed.

What if that occurred to those of us who sell?

What if we no longer had the ability to persuade and motivate others?

How dramatically would our lifestyles be affected by a significant reduction in income?

Where would we work?

Who would hire us?

Inside the mind of every human on the planet is a jewel in the rough – a diamond of astronomical proportions. It is the thought that we can bring value to others, regardless of our jobs, our dress, our language, even our religious beliefs.

Do you have an identity beyond that of your work success (or struggles)?

Are you building into, bettering others?

We might be mutants because we choose to be different from fixed-income workers.

But even X-Men delight those around them. Go and do the same.

Take some time at work, at home, at play to delight the hearts and minds of anyone you connect with.

You’ll prove yourself of value to them. And you’ll be adding a little sparkle to that diamond in your brain, the place where your thoughts are formed, nurtured and shared.

Go shine today on your portion of the planet.

That’s true mutant behavior.

Barry Bonds vs. Average Sales Rep

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Everyone wants to hit the home run.

We all want to be the Babe Ruth, the Hank Aaron of selling; crowds cheering at national sales conferences, sales children asking for autographs and wondering “how do you do it?”

One sportswriter, impatient at how long it was taking Barry Bonds to hit number 715 joked, “Let’s just give him some steroids and get it over with.”

Regardless of the truth of the answer to the chemical question, Bonds is on a team with 25 other players. In fact the whole league, MLB, is comprised of 750 professionals, most of whom don’t hit that many home runs at all.

In selling a solid performer rarely hits home runs.

He or she is consistent in his or her work ethic and keeps plodding, whether times are tough or great.

750 pro baseball players rose to the top of their game by working constantly at being the best at specific skills, then proving ultimately useful to their management and team.

What are you best at? Prospecting? Closing? Opening? Managing accounts? Sales training? Managing/coaching reps?

What are you proud of?

What to you bring to the game of selling?

Now go get better at that and pick a couple areas you can improve as well.

The best are never satisfied, but they are always consistent in performance.

Become a true pro at selling. You even get to “negotiate” your own salary.

Good Hitting

Unforgiven

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Another common theme I’ve seen in sales horror stories centers on the fact that prospects are mostly quite unforgiving.

You make a mistake and they move on.

There are too many choices. You talk too much, are rude to the assistant, too persistent in following up, disparage competitors or any of many more sales-like behaviors, and you have just disqualified yourself from consideration.

Two things to think on – you can be respectful and professional in your interactions and you won’t be antagonizing anyone.

Or, you mess up and you have to call yourself out. “I am so sorry, how stupid of me. You must think I’m my company’s village idiot. You probably don’t want to do business with someone like this anyway.”

Don’t be surprised if the prospect says, “Hey, I’ve done dumb things, too. It’s okay, let’s keep going.”

And you attain forgiveness.

So be real, be humble and you can repair a mistake before it costs you the close.

He’s soooo Old…

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

… his blood type is discontinued.

One of the key themes that runs through my collection of sales blunders is the concept that selling strategies we grew up with don’t work as well as they used to. And it’s not as much that they are ineffective – research shows that 40% of the population is motivated by benefits – it’s more that our prospects have experienced our techniques for so long, that they can be a bit irritated when we start using them.

The “alternate choice” close is a good example. Would you like A or B? Can we meet Tuesday at 10am or Wednesday at 2pm? These comments are predictable and you can’t distinguish yourself from the competition by sounding, looking and acting like them.

So do it differently. Give them three choices – or none! “I’m not sure when we can get together, my schedule is pretty full, what would you like to do?” When they name a time, reject it and accept their next suggestion. This way you not only prove you’re not like all those sales dogs hounding buyers, but you’re busy and successful, too.

So watch your use of old techniques and you won’t sound like those mediocre salespeople you’re kicking to the side of the road, as you collect their commissions.

Good Hunting!

How long have you been working here?

Friday, May 26th, 2006

“Ever since my boss threatened to fire me.”

Okay, it’s an old joke but it made me think of missing salespeople. I’ve been recently inspired by all the news coverage of former teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and the hunt for his remains. And this is funny, the FBI is looking at Hidden Dreams Farm.

Don’t bury your dreams of selling success by not being all there.

One of the toughest parts of selling is being there and giving 100% or more to your company, your career and your bank account.

Most of us got in this business for the freedom and income potential. We then struggle with attaining our potential, simply because we don’t manage our time. We’re easily distracted – ironically, by the things that are meant to serve our success – computer (surf’s up!), phone (gotta chat about last night’s TV or sports news) or our brain (wandering thoughts). The FBI is working hard to find Jimmy Hoffa, and our taxes support their efforts. Why not work just as hard to put a full 8 or 10 or ? hours into your day, and find out how productive you can be?

Keep your focus on your work for one day. You might be surprised at how much you’re capable of doing. And that translates into money.

That’s it. The FBI still can’t find Jimmy Hoffa at Hidden Dreams Farm.

Will your dreams remain buried, in hiding?

Can you find you? One day, one full day at a time.

American Idol Lessons for Sales Pros

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Taylor Hicks, winner of this year’s American Idol competition was a surprise to millions of people, including brilliant judge and grumpy commentator Simon Cowell who originally voted not to send the young man from Birmingham to Hollywood.

Here are three reasons Taylor Hicks vaulted past some great voices and won the hearts and votes of his prospective buyers. Yes, they are prospective buyers; they will all buy CDs by the boatload.

  1. Memorable Makes Money – No competitor in five years on this show has been as unique as Hicks. Ask yourself this question – when you sell do you distinguish yourself from every other salesperson? Or do you blend into a crowd of howling karaoke singers, hoping to get some attention?
  1. Charisma is Contagious – Taylor loves singing! It flows from his being and brings pure joy to anyone watching. Because of this, each of the judges complimented him in ways no other singer had been praised. Do you like selling? Or do you love it? Think of all the great reasons to love your work and it will be evident to your audience of buyers. You have flexibility on the job, you control your income, you meet a wide (and often wild) variety of personalities, you can fulfill your dreams faster than any other type of work. Get loving your work and you’ll get all the charisma you need to be a shining light in the eyes, mind and ears of every prospective customer.
  1. Investing Increases Income – Taylor was meticulous in his selection of clothes. The image he presented to judges and audience was a perfect match to each song he sang, from his wild shirts to classy suits. Every sales professional can probably better manage their image by investing in some area of their sales life. What is it for you? Clothing? Tools, like a nicer, newer car or PDA or cell phone? Or do you need some training or coaching? Every prospect wants to work with a true professional. Invest in yourself and you will receive a great return on your investment, a YES! from more potential clients.

A final thought; learn to learn from everyone, everywhere you can. So whether you love or like or hate Taylor Hicks or Simon Cowell or the American Idol show, you can discover lessons about being memorable, charismatic and a better investor in your sales life. You can work to become #1 and receive that final vote and a check from more prospects.

#1 Sales Blunder of All Time

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

FOOT IN MOUTH KILLS SALESMAN

John Madden?

Rick sells printing services, and he’s probably not as good as he is persistent. It took six months of phone calls and mailed literature to finally get into the president’s office of a company that the rep wanted to sell very badly. It took less than thirty seconds to undo half a year of time and effort.

Rick had finally nailed this guy down to an appointment and wanted to make a very good first impression. He figured that this president would look at him as either a strong, persistent salesman or a pest. He would dispose of a pest as quickly as he could, so as Rick walked into the executive’s office, he looked for something on the wall or on his desk to use for a little opening small talk.

There it was! “John Madden!” he cried, pointing at an 8 ×10 photograph on the prospect’s credenza. Every sports fan knows the 300-plus-pound commentator. He’s probably the best announcer around, in spite of a face that could stop a bus. “That’s a fantastic photo! How did you get a picture of yourself with your arm around John Madden?”

Rick’s rapport-building efforts crashed in flames as the shocked company president slowly answered, “That’s not John Madden, that’s… my… wife.”

POSTMORTEM Our poor salesman, Rick, used an approach that was popular early in the evolution of selling. Are you like this at the initial contact with a prospect? Do you look for that fish on the wall, the trophy on the shelf, the picture on the desk? We’re often taught to comment on these items to “break the ice.” Can you distinguish yourself by being so ordinary? Don’t sound like everyone else who sells. This small talk is wasteful and disrespectful of a buyer’s time. Here’s a suggestion for that initial contact that many top-performing sales pros use today: Recognize that your prospects don’t have the time to chat like they used to. Simply respect the prospect’s time, and review what you agreed upon when you got the appointment. Rick should have said, “Mr. Prospect, I want to respect your commitment to the time we have. When we talked on the phone you said we’d have forty-five minutes to talk. Is that right? Good. What is the most serious reason you felt it was important to invite me in today?” As a sales pro, you’ve now honored someone’s busy schedule and gotten right to business. Best of all, the prospect is about to do most of the talking.

© 2006 Sales Autopsy by Dan Seidman, Kaplan Publishing, coming in October 2006.

Selling Blunders and Selling Pros

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Entrepreneurs and salespeople know how tough this life is. So you can come here to www.SalesAutopsy.com to learn from your peers who have crashed and burned in front of prospects.

You’ll not only laugh through some hilarious sales horror stories, but you’ll discover what distinguishes world class sales pros from everyone else. Each tale has a “postmortem” that reveals how to deal with each mistake.

Funny and useful.

And I’d love to have your confession. Tell me your most embarrassing sales moment and you could win a Sales Comic Book – there is nothing like it on this planet (possibly any planet). Have a peak at a couple comics at www.SalesComics.com.

When I speak at national sales conferences the attendees have a unique experience hearing failures, rather than success stories. See, who wants to know about someone’s great performance when it only makes everyone else feels 2nd best?

We’d all rather glorify failure and whisper to our friends, “Thank God that didn’t happen to me.”