Archive for November, 2006

Capgras Syndrome and Suffering Sales Managers

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Capgras Syndrome is a bizarre, but real condition where people act as if they are in a parallel universe and the people they know are “doubles” or “impostors.”

They might even believe that inanimate objects – chairs, desks, computers are replacements, exact duplicates, of their real property.

Whoa! How bizarre is that? It’s more common, I believe, in the sales population than anywhere.

I’ve known sales managers who exhibit Capgras Syndrome. They have great performers working for them. Then suddenly sales go slack and they wonder if the reps on their team are actually doubles, impostors, the evil twins of their productive people.

The office environment also doesn’t even feel the same when the air goes out of company sales.

So who are you today? Are you that consistent, steady selling performer or do you fluctuate wildly, leaving your manager wondering who showed up to work this morning?

A good daily work plan and managing your energy during that day are key to steady growth. Do this and you won’t freak out your sales manager into believing he’s suffering from any condition other than that of serious success.

Leave parallel universes to psychologists and sci-fi movies.

Bomb-Sniffing Bees in Training for War

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Nov. 28, 2006 —U.S. military defense scientists have found a way to train the common honey bee to smell explosives used in bombs, a skill they say could help protect American troops abroad.

The scientists used Pavlovian techniques on the bees’ natural response to nectar, a sticking out of their tongue, or proboscis extension reflex.

By rewarding them with sugar water, the scientists taught bees to give the same reflex action when they were exposed to vapors from explosives such as dynamite, C4 plastic and TATP (triacetone triperoxide), often used by suicide bombers.

As someone who lives in the world of sales training, I’m fascinated at what can be accomplished when a student is properly motivated.

You’re a trainer, too? Did you know that? You train your prospects every day.

You train them to ask for literature – when you send them literature.

You train them to hide behind voicemail – when you don’t set next steps in the form of actual, scheduled appointments (phone or face-to-face).

You train them to negotiate price – when you neglect selling value.

If I could fix just one of these, I’d like to go back in time and put a stick of dynamite (pre-bee training days) under the desk of the first guy who mailed literature when a buyer said, “Sounds great, send me your information.” It’s been downhill from there.

So what are you training others to do? Or not to do?

In a later post, I’ll address how to handle these poorly trained prospects. While you’re waiting, think about how to avoid these situations yourself. Just one change, one un-trained, re-trained prospect can land you a sweet sale. That’s like honey to a bee.

Can you Trust a Smile?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Interesting article on culture clash for the Beijing Olympics. In the Chinese society, smiles often are treated with suspicion.

Some local university students, who will form the backbone of the volunteers in 2008, have actually been organized to take training in flashing a smile to visitors, such as learning to “smile three metres away.” But the students said that it needed a lot of practice to be able to smile three metres away with ease and calm, according to local media reports.

During a recent international softball game, student volunteers found their university had set up a special room for them to discuss their experiences after work, so they would be less stressed out and could smile from their hearts.

So why does the city need to make such an effort to get people to smile ?

Unlike in the West, where a person wearing a smile would be most likely regarded as someone who is friendly, kind and can be trusted, people in China are traditionaly encouraged to be serious looking than to show a big smile to strangers. In popular literature, people who always wear a smile or smile “without a reason” may be depicted as being silly or even harbouring an ulterior motive.

This can create problems when serious-looking Chinese persons meet more friendly foreign visitors.

A young US student in Beijing recalled that once during her first month in the city she bought some chestnuts at a campus grocery store. She thanked the seller with a smile because she had tasted one and she liked it very much. The man said something long in Chinese, without any facial expression. The young woman thought he was being angry, until somebody told her that the man was actually asking her to buy more if she liked it.

And because people didn’t smile back, she soon smiled only to those Chinese who looked friendly, she told local news media.

Wow! What a fascinating problem China faces to integrate their culture and accept the rest of the world for their 2008 summer Olympics hosting duties.

How well do you show sincerity when you sell?

In our society people are pretty adept at realizing whether someone means what they “show.”

For example, you sit down at a restaurant and a waitress says, “Hi, how are you today?”

The difference is dramatic between a person who really means it, really wants to know – as opposed to someone who says it because it’s their standard opening line.

In the same vein, salespeople should be cautious about opening conversations with language that is frivolous. A genuine smile can take you a mile down the road toward a close, as opposed to a silly comment like “how are you today?”

Smile from your heart and you’ll touch the heart of that hard working buyer who’s got to buy from someone. Why not you?

How to Get Financially Fat during the Holidays

Monday, November 27th, 2006

I remember working for a boss who didn’t want his sales team (about a dozen reps) to make phone calls on Friday afternoons during the summer.

No reason to spend money running up phone bills prospecting when all the prospects were out golfing. All of them. He evidently had some insights into our buyers that we were not privy to. They were HR executives, by the way.

So I disrespectfully disobeyed the man.

Went right on contacting people while my fellow reps went (I guess) golfing as well.

I stayed in the office, teed off on the phone and drove my sales to about double the next closest teammate. And none of my sales buddies ran into any buyers on the golf course.

This same attitude will inflict or affect or afflict the world of salespeople right about now, during holiday time.

What will you do when the world around you is slowing down? Will you keep up your normal pace and keep up your normal income? Or will you amp it up a bit and watch your competition disappear in the rear view mirror?

You have a commitment to your career, your company and your family. You’ll get your holiday time, just don’t waste your working time by slowing down while everyone else gets sluggish and sloppy.

Keep that commitment and work hard. Remember in sales you pay yourself. And, if you’re smart and consistent, you can get financially fat during the holidays.

Thank you, Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

There’s an old concept called “Count your blessings.” So I’ll do that here today, the day we want to be thankful for everything we can think of.

Thank you for all my sales friends who put Sales Autopsy at the #1 business best-seller position with Barnes & Noble in October.

Thank you my 2 million plus readers who laugh and learn through my sales horror stories in magazines like Agent’s Sales Journal, Independent Agent Magazine, Advantages, HIU and more.

And when you contact me after reading a tale or two to invite me to speak at your national sales conference, I’m grateful for the additional exposure and income from speaking.

Then, when I speak and you offer up more selling blunders during our “confession session,” I’m further thankful for more stories to share with my reading audience (it’s like The Circle of Life!).

I’m thankful for my wife who supported me when Sales Autopsy was just a funny idea that turned into a vision and into a viable, profitable, incredibly fun business.

I’m thankful for the Bob Pike Group and key executives there, Bob, Betsy & Russ who have made an intellectual property guy’s dream come true. The company has seen the value of Sales Autopsy thinking and strategies and turned it into an incredible sales training program which I’d put up against anything in the marketplace. And anything includes Miller Heiman, Sandler, Carnegie, SPIN and more – all of whom endorsed my approach to teaching reps from way back at the beginning.

I’m thankful for the rest of my family.

I’m incredibly thankful for my Sunrise Hoops guys. Having a place to play every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 4:45am is a huge stress relief and gives me joy in my other area of expertise – basketball (by the way, any readers who might be in the Chicago area and want to run, track me down).

I’m thankful most of all for this incredible planet we live on because it’s a reflection of the Creator who put us here (sorry, but evolution takes a bit more faith than I have).

Have a GREAT thanksgiving and when was the last time you created a list like this? I’d love to see yours!

Queen for a Day or More…

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

The Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals has pages which list all the queens of their events.

If you were to enter, you could try for the following “queenships;”

Shrimp & Petroleum, Meat, Shrimp (evidently without Petroleum), Family Fishing Rodeo, Swamp Pop Music, Pecan, Oyster, Crawfish, Swine, Loggers & Forestry, Fur & Wildlife, Honeybee, Duck or Tamale Queen.

There could be a festival every weekend in the state – where a competitor could land an award as the queen of some wildlife or food, perhaps with some toxic chemical thrown in.

What awards have you won, as an individual sales rep or for your product if you’re an entrepreneur or sales exec?

When went live, I looked for web awards online and applied for everything – Yahoo! site of the Day, Humor Site Award, even landed on the American Marketing Association Magazine as one of “Marketing’s Best Websites.”

Now I hunt for awards for my books or products. Because every time you land something worth crowing about a reporter or website is looking for content every day to help you shout to the world. The credibility and exposure are priceless and will land you exposure and business.

Right now Sales Autopsy is a finalist for Selling Power Magazine’s Top Sales Training Program of the Year.

What award can you apply to – for yourself or your product and service?

Look for awards – that’s great guerrilla marketing!

Monday, from now on…

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Decide today that you will increase your activity for the week, somehow, in some fashion.

Will you make 10 new calls each day beyond your normal phone work?

Another face-to-face meeting each day, even if it’s cold-calling near a prospect or client’s location?

See what a bump in your activity can do to permanently award yourself a raise.

Smart sales pros are always testing their limits. What are yours?

Turkey Sale Dies

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Greg’s Healthy Eating Pitch Dies a Bloody Death

Our health food store was running a sales contest. It was a big push to sell our expensive, organic Thanksgiving turkeys.

A woman and her daughter came in and began firing objections at me – too expensive was, of course, the favorite.

I flew through the benefits of our turkeys. They are hormone free. They eat grain, good grain – without drugs or chemical additives. The birds roam freely and are well watered. So they’re quite happy. In essence, I painted a scenic picture of Old McDonald’s farm.

To provide a dramatic contrast to ordinary turkeys, I shared the life of a typical frozen turkey. They are crammed into cages where their beaks are sawed off. They’re often sick and injured from the wire cages and so are loaded up with antibiotics. These drugs are now in your food and when you get sick, the doctor’s drugs don’t work as well since your body is building up a store through all the ordinary farm animals’ meat you eat.

I wrapped up my persuasive pitch with a dynamic description of a frozen turkey vs. a recently slaughtered, fresh bird.

The growing look of horror on my customers’ faces told it all. I’d killed the sale.

POSTMORTEM: Greg! Your wild description of a great product overwhelmed the senses of your customers. So basically, your excitement over-rode your own sales sense. Obviously you dumped all your turkey news when you should have been asking questions: “Have you ever bought something more expensive than you planned?” “Is healthy eating a concern, along with good eating this holiday?” You get the picture. By way of encouragement, remember that some prospects are looking for reasons not to buy anyway. That might be what happened to you – they wanted an excuse not to spend the money on a real premium bird. Ask great questions and your prospects will talk themselves into the sale.

Fire Ants and Firing at Trouble

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Lorenzo Martin, 34, was charged with domestic violence in September, accused of holding his estranged wife’s leg in a bed of fire ants, resulting in more than 100 bites (Cottonwood, Ala.). [Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)-AP, 9-5-06]

One thing you can say about evil, it tends toward dramatic fits of creativity.

People go into conflict when they don’t get their way. In a world where selfishness reigns, it’s tough to sell intelligently unless you put the other person’s needs ahead of your need to close.

And this is where trouble arises. You won’t always get your way anyway. So your ability to handle conflict is a measure of your mental health. How do you react to things gone wrong?

Do you lash out, perhaps not at the prospect, but at co-workers or worse, family, when you get home?

Do you relax and move on?

You can be immune from the trouble, from the sting of a thousand biting prospects, if you just learn to take your lesson and move on.

Topless Skull Confirms Earliest Autopsy

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

The earliest confirmed autopsy in North America was conducted more than 400 years ago by French colonists desperate to determine what was killing them as they endured a rugged winter on St. Croix Island, scientists concluded.

The skull in question was discovered during excavations by the National Park Service in June 2003. The top of the skull had been removed to expose the brain; the skull cap was replaced before the body was buried, the scientists said. (Discovery Channel)

Everyone wants the scoop on failure and death. Okay, so “scoop” was a poor choice of words, given the image of a head with it’s lid off. But figuring out failure is a sign of maturity in selling and a sign of skill in management.

You should be reviewing every sales call to analyze what went wrong and what went right.

Did you gain rapport at the beginning?

Ask great questions to lead the prospect down the path to the close?

Leave with a yes, no or well-defined next step?

Autopsy often, your sales brain will get bigger, faster – guaranteed.