Archive for March, 2008

My 2nd Grade Teacher & Selling

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

No, the beautiful Mrs. Schumacher did not inspire me to a career in our profession. In fact, I only remember one thing she taught during that year…

“When you butter your toast, you don’t have to coat the bread to every corner.” (back then you learned manners as well as math)

So I’m thinking of Mrs. S today as I plop my toast on a plate and begin to smear butter across the coarse, lunar-like surface.

And I think, “NO! I’m not going to be frugal with my butter. I’m successful. I can afford it. I can put all the butter, then all the jam, then all the jalapeno peppers on my toast that I want (just checking if you’re still with me on the last one).”

And I smear too much of everything, too far across my morning meal.

So how’s your attitude on your performance?

Do you treat yourself, often, to reinforce that you’re doing well and deserve some goodies?

I like that my teacher taught us to be frugal. And I do believe every sales pro should have a personal budget and be able to live within their means.

But I do like rewards and bet you do as well.

And you definitely earned the right to treat yourself a little more than you have been doing up until today.

So butter yourself up big – you deserve it!

Mark Twain for Sales Reps

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

-Mark Twain

This is a pro procrastination message.

Here’s when I encourage putting off those calls and activities…

You know those poor prospects that just showed up in your contact manager to re-connect? Put ’em off to tomorrow. Or later. Or forever.

You have so much legitimate business, there is no reason to chase these jokers.

So unless you have a small, well-defined territory that you need to saturate over time, just procrastinate on poor prospects.

And get going after the good ones.

You can tell your manager that sales expert Mark Twain said so.

Sales Training Iguanas

Monday, March 10th, 2008

In early January, when a national deep freeze extended even to the Florida Keys, iguanas fell into their natural hibernation-like torpor, and some compassionate Floridians, unaccustomed to seeing iguanas that appeared nearly dead, took them indoors to warm them up, which is a mistake. The owner of the veterinary clinic in Marathon said one “sweet lady” called him about the five-footer she had dragged inside. “When it woke up,” said the vet, “she couldn’t understand why it seemed to be coming after her. When they warm up, they go back to being a wild animal.” [Keynoter (Key West), 1-7-08]

If you facilitate or oversee sales coaching and education, here’s a question for you…

What are you dragging into your training house that doesn’t belong there?

Too much of traditional sales training is based on strategies that are no longer as effective as they were in the 70s and 80s.

You know this is true, too. Prospects have heard all of our closes and when we offer up some of these common comments, it comes across as pre-planned, perhaps even manipulative. Many of them today are much smarter than we are.

We also know a great deal more about buyers than we knew in the old “blast ’em with features and benefits” days (i.e., “I’m praying one thing on this laundry list of benefits will strike a chord and cause that guy to buy”).

In fact, with sales teams I’ve managed or been hired to train, I teach them how to eat lunch. Think about it. Do you want reps crashing around 2pm every day, tanking productivity and diminishing morale in the office or out in the field?

A holistic approach might also include giving some budgeting skills to reps whose income might fluctuate as erratically as John Travolta’s acting career.

So drag those old, five foot lizard-like ideas out of the house. Replace them with smart new strategies that increase the quality of your training and the quality of your sales team.

Do it quick before your sales continue to hibernate. Call me directly for help or ideas, I’d be happy to talk about this with other corporate sales training pros.

Dan Seidman, dan@salesautopsy.com or 1-847-359-7860.

Richest Man in the World

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Forbes just published its annual list of the world’s wealthiest men. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/News/GatesDethroned
BuffettIsRichest.aspx?GT1=33009

And my name wasn’t there. Didn’t notice your name either.

And sorry, ladies – none of your fellow females made the top ten, but there are 99 billionaire women as noted here: http://www.forbes.com/2008/03/05/women-billionaires-female-
billionaires08-cx_dp_0305women_slide.html?partner=msnedit

So how do you attain income like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and the new #2 Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican media mogul (Bill got bounced from #1 to #3)?

These guys are very smart. These guys work very hard. And these guys surround themselves with other smarter, harder working people.

And since you’re not born smart, and there is no “hard worker” gene (unless your mother was a queen bee), you can be encouraged to know that ANYONE CAN GET ON THIS LIST.

So what are you doing today to get smarter?

Oh, you’re watching television 4 hours a day? Right, that’ll do it.

And what are you doing to work harder?

Investing 4 hours a day into television?

Okay sales pros – a conscious decision to improve yourself is followed by action that reflects your desires.

But the real trick is to tell someone, create an accountability partner to kick you in the tail when you fall short of your desired changes.

At least I didn’t decide to preach about my really, really smart friend who is married with a kid and doesn’t own a television.

How about today? Is today a good day to start?

Outlaws, Sheriffs and Selling

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The sheriff said to the outlaw, “I’ll give you a fair chance. We’ll step off ten paces and you fire at the count of three.” The men pace off, the sheriff shouts, “One, two” – and then he turns and fires. The dying outlaw says, “I thought you said to fire on three.”

The sheriff said, “That was your number. Mine was two.”

Hey, when you’re selling, did you ever notice that your buyer’s timing is never quite in sync with you? Not on the same page? Not working with the same number?

As sales pros we prefer urgency and a quick decision. As buyers we’re often fairly cautious, slow, even methodical before making our choice.

So shame on us, when we sell, that we are surprised by buyers who won’t give us a clue how soon they’re deciding what to decide.

Like any objection, we should be prepared to pre-empt a buyer’s propensity to delay decisions.

At the very least, we can request the time-frame whereby the prospect’s company needs to conclude its evaluation of products and services.

So you’ll find that you have the skills to create urgency (more on how to do that, on a later date) or not.

If not, at least get that buyer to share when they’ll be done talking and ready to take action.

This way, you find out what his or her number is and you adjust your sales approach accordingly.

Now that we’ve addressed this repeating problem you should never let it happen again. If you do, that’s weak selling. And in the eyes of your manager, criminal behavior.