As a general rule, I recommend sales pros avoid or work around the procurement department as often as possible.
Procurement departments are populated with “professional buyers,” people who are highly trained and experienced. That means they have a built-in advantage over sales professionals. They tend to be more formidable in sales negotiating than sales reps.
That doesn’t mean you disrespect professional buyers, show hostility toward them or have disdain for them. Sometimes, despite your best efforts not to, you will have to work with procurement. They are human like you and me. Building rapport and trust with them can be … Read the rest
This might seem counterintuitive, but if we’re going to talk about sales presentations, we must first talk about listening.
Too often extroverted sales reps who love the sound of their own voices launch into a well-rehearsed and finely polished demonstration and pitches. You don’t want to do that, however, until you have determined exactly who the prospect is, what they value and how your offering specifically delivers what they value.
Then, and only then, do you start to “sell.”
A sales presentation is your pitch. More specifically, the presentation is your formal chance to present how you and your product’s … Read the rest
It happens to all of us — a prospective client, one you’re sure is going to end up buying from you, suddenly goes inexplicably dark.
Prospects have been going dark since the sales profession’s very beginning. It’s a common problem, but it appears to be growing worse.
And it happens even when the prospect initiates the first contact.
A prospect will seek you out, ostensibly excited about your property or representation services. They want to meet with you immediately because “time is of the essence” or they want “to nail this down right away.” Your meeting goes well. You hit … Read the rest
I recently led a workshop for a company’s sales team on how they could succeed during periods of recession and rising interest rates. Much of the workshop was discussion-based, and the topics of conversation were fascinating.
From the outset, reps and manufacturers that participated in the chat were quick to emphasize that for the relationship between rep and principal to be effective, communication ground rules have to be established from day one. One rep stated it best when he said, “I make every attempt during the interview process with a prospective principal to establish what our communication requirements are going … Read the rest
On your way to a networking event, have you ever worried, “What if I don’t know anyone?”
While it might make you uncomfortable, not knowing anyone forces you to use your networking skills. Too many people go to a function and sit in the corner with their friends, co-workers, spouse, whoever. That’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do that, just go to a restaurant.
If you find networking a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many professionals who are good at networking have had to work hard to make it look that way. Sure, some people are naturally … Read the rest
Even if you are thoughtful and deliberate when setting your goals, if you’re like most sales professionals, you don’t accomplish all of them. There are a number of reasons why you might fall short, but one of the most common ones I see is a lack of goal tracking.
Tracking is the magic ingredient that makes goal setting so powerful.
If you write your sales goals and put them in a binder that sits on the top shelf of a little-used cabinet, you are wasting a golden opportunity. Check your sales goals at least once a quarter, preferably once a … Read the rest
Whenever you have a lot of disruption in the world, it usually ends up disrupting your business and your job too. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had the pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues, and now a major war in Europe.
During periods of tumult, you’re likely to see some buyers and sellers behaving differently. As an example, I’ve had a few clients tell me that they’ve had more clients asking them to answer Requests for Proposals (RFPs) lately.
Those who know me well know I am not a fan of RFPs. I rarely respond to them. Clients who … Read the rest
More than 40 percent of sales professionals say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process according to a HubSpot survey. Thirty-six percent said closing was the most difficult part while 22 percent cited qualifying prospective clients as toughest.
Would you like to know what surprised me most about these survey results?
The fact that prospecting only had 40 percent.
I believe that prospecting is the most important part of the sales process and the one that causes the most stress, worry and procrastination among people who sell for a living.
When speaking to sales reps, I sometimes … Read the rest
Do you want to be more effective at closing deals? If so, you might need to change your way of thinking, because closing is actually “an act of service.”
So says sales consultant James Muir in his report, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Closing and the Statistical Truth that Will Improve Your Sales.”
“Your customers expect you to help them make the positive changes that will bring about their desired results,” says Muir, who is also author of the best-selling book, The Perfect Close. “They expect you to encourage them to become better than they are…. Be their coach … Read the rest
“Telephone prospecting is a waste of time, because all I ever do is leave voicemails. Nobody ever answers the phone!”
I hear frustrating words like these from sales reps quite often.
Few topics in the sales world generate more opinions than telephone prospecting in general, and voicemails in particular. Sales reps typically don’t enjoy telephone prospecting, and many get tired of never reaching a real, living decision maker.
Make no mistake; those of us who sell for a living spend a lot of time leaving voicemails.
According to Ringlead.com, the typical sales rep leaves an average of 70 voicemails per … Read the rest
Many sales professionals talk about the value of emotional intelligence, also known as “EQ.”
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate your own emotions while being in tune with and empathetic of others’ feelings and behaviors. The ability to express and control your own emotions while being highly perceptive when it comes to others’ emotions is critically important in sales. Similarly, it’s even more important if you have a leadership role in your company.
According to author Daniel Goleman, people with high emotional intelligence can recognize their own emotions and those of others, they use emotional information … Read the rest
We are living in a dangerous time right now — a dangerous time for sales professionals, their personal brands and their continued employment.
The world in which we live has become politically and socially polarized. For many reasons, some nefarious and others unintentional, people are being sucked toward the outlying extremities of the opinion spectrum.
It’s unfortunate, and I don’t see it getting any better in the short run. As socio-political vitriol reaches new pitch levels, some people are finding social media to be too unnerving.
Like you, I have social media connections who regularly pontificate on their immoderate points … Read the rest
I just talked to a sales pro who had her best month ever. She’s on top of the world. There’s arguably no better feeling in the world than hitting a new sales peak.
Maybe you’re having your best month now too. If so, congrats. If not, you surely remember your best month (and your best year too).
For the sake of argument, let’s say you are having the best month of your sales career.
Everything is going right and you’re incredibly busy. In fact, there’s so much going on you have several deals that are closing at the same time. … Read the rest
“I see your signs everywhere!”
For 20 years, I worked in commercial real estate, and if had a dollar for every time someone said that to me about our company, I’d have a ton of money.
They’re talking about the “For Sale” signs that real estate brokers plant in front of their listed properties.
Of course, even the busiest company doesn’t really have signs everywhere, but sometimes it feels like they do.
Why is that?
It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon also known as “frequency illusion.” Psychologists tell us that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a cognitive bias. After noticing something for … Read the rest
According to one of the world’s richest persons, “content is king.”
That’s what Microsoft founder Bill Gates declared in an essay he wrote in 1996. You could make the argument that content is even more royal today than it was in the ’90s. Content attracts attention and draws prospective clients.
I’m a big believer in writing fresh, original content because it makes a revenue generator’s job so much easier.
As a professional speaker, I do zero advertising. The only “marketing” I do is write articles that are intended to be valuable for people in my target audience and post similar … Read the rest
The Pew Research Center released the results of a survey on social media use in the United States, and the results are salient for anyone who uses social media for prospecting purposes. Here are some of the findings:
- Approximately 81 percent of adults use YouTube, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
- Gender matters! — 46 percent of women use Pinterest, but only 16 percent of men are on it.
- Age matters! — 50 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are on Facebook. Meanwhile, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are most heavily used by the 18-to-29 demographic.
… Read the rest
This might not be a pleasant memory but close your eyes and picture yourself one year ago. Remember what you were thinking and how you were feeling. The pandemic was new, and the fear caused by the recently implemented shutdown was raw. People who sell for a living were shell-shocked, wondering how they would pay bills or keep their businesses afloat.
I have written more than a thousand articles in my career, but a year ago today, I wrote one of my most important ones. It was titled, “How Can You Sell Your Way Out of This Crisis?” Here’s a … Read the rest
You want to know the quickest path to winning new clients?
It’s getting harder and harder to cut through the clutter and reach influential decision makers. That’s why referrals have never been more valuable than they are today.
In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your ticket to the show. The more senior a prospect is in a company; the more important referrals are.
Reaching busy decision makers is not the only reason you should ask past and current clients for referrals. By asking for business leads, … Read the rest
Forbes has a fascinating feature called “The Real-Time Billionaires List,” an up-to-the-minute listing of the world’s richest people and their current net worth.
Remember all that talk about Elon Musk passing up Jeff Bezos as the richest person? Well, it didn’t last. Bezos is back on top with $192.8 billion as of the morning of February 5, 2021. But Musk is still getting by; his net worth as $185.4 billion. Bill Gates is fourth richest. Zuck is fifth. Warren Buffett is 9th. The richest member of the Walton family is 17th. China’s Jack Ma comes in at 20th.
But each … Read the rest
One of my all-time favorite “sales” quotes came from a man known simply as “The Greatest,” the late boxing champ Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
At the end of a boxing match, spectators see the glory and adoration of a victorious champion. They don’t see what it takes to get there. They don’t see the hard work or the blood, sweat and tears. It’s the investment of time, effort and discipline leading up … Read the rest
I get them every day and you probably do too.
I’m talking about connection requests on LinkedIn that are really cold prospecting messages. You know the drill — someone you’ve never heard of sends you a connection request. Against your better judgment, you accept it partly because you’re a nice person and partly because you think, “Well, I guess a person can never have too many connections.”
About 15 seconds after you click “accept,” you receive a LinkedIn direct message from the person nakedly pitching some product or service.
There are a lot of reasons why we receive so many … Read the rest
Do you invest in the stock market?
If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.
If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time. If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.
Either way, the stock market goes up … Read the rest
Prospecting is not just something sales professionals do to fill their pipelines. Prospecting is a mindset, and for the most successful sales pros, it’s a way of life.
If you work in sales, nobody has to tell you that prospecting today is exponentially harder than at any other time in history. Why is that?
Here are four reasons:
- Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
- Products and services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
- Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales
… Read the rest
“Jeff, I’d like to meet with you, get to know you and pick your brain. Do you have time for lunch next week?”
I periodically get calls that sound just like that. As I’m listening to the caller, I’m Googling that person. I want to know who I’m dealing with and what he or she is all about. This may not be fair, but if nothing or very little pops up after I Google someone, I’m unimpressed. My assumption is that they don’t have much going on; they’re not involved in their profession or community.
It’s safe to assume people … Read the rest
You know that old saying: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Perhaps we could add another clause: “…and keep your references closest of all.”
One of my readers recently asked me “to write an article about work and business references in this age of business closures, people moving on, etc.” The reader mentioned that he had lost a few references lately. One had moved, changing his email address and phone number, and couldn’t be found. Another relocated to China. A third one retired and no longer seemed interested in talking about anything that reminded him of life before … Read the rest
We don’t want to be tone deaf when we talk to current or prospective clients, but that doesn’t mean our communication should lack substance.
Hard-sell tactics are not typically effective, and they are even less so in times like this. Because of that, some people are recommending that client communication should be soft, sensitive and relationship-centric, such as this:
“Hey, I’m just calling to check in with you and see if you’re okay. I’m thinking of you and wanted to see how you’re doing. I know this is a difficult time to make decisions, so just know that I’m here … Read the rest
“I’m taking a break from Facebook.”
“I don’t even check Twitter anymore.”
I’ve been hearing statements like these with increasing regularity.
As political vitriol reaches new pitch levels, some people are finding social media to be too unnerving. While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter remain important parts of my life, I can understand why a person would want to avoid all the unpleasantries. It’s almost as if you have to psych yourself up these days before opening your Facebook feed.
Like you, I have social media friends/connections who constantly spout fervent opinions on a host of socio-political issues. I strongly agree … Read the rest
Most sales reps believe there are an infinite number of objections that a prospective client could give them, but objections really boil down to just a handful of things:
- Competitor: “We already work with X.”
- Timing: “Call me back next quarter.”
- Price: “We don’t have the budget.”
- Limitations: “Can you do X, Y and Z?”
- Lack of Value: “Send me some information.”
Most reps don’t like dealing with objections, and there are several reasons why. Some objections come across like rejections, and that simply doesn’t feel good. Most of us fear rejection at some level. Other objections could signal that … Read the rest
A colleague recently handed me a yellowing copy of Robert Ringer’s Winning Through Intimidation, a personal development book published 47 years ago. The fact that it was so old was precisely the reason I was excited to read it.
I’ve been on an old-book kick lately. I’m deliberately reading sales, leadership and personal development books that are at least 20 years old, so I can compare how thinking has changed.
I’m a big believer in learning from history. While you must stay on the cutting edge and keep up with our changing world, the most successful people never stray … Read the rest
Have you ever heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt?”
It’s an old English proverb that traces its roots back many centuries. Chaucer wrote those words in 1386 in the “Tale of Melibee.” According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, “Long experience of someone or something can make one so aware of the faults as to be scornful.”
It’s not just a saying — familiarity can indeed breed contempt (unless you work hard to avoid it). I hear it all the time when I work with sales professionals, some of whom dangerously take their clients for granted: “That customer is … Read the rest