The State of Social Selling Today

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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.
  • Education
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Looking Back at Last Year’s Most Important Advice

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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

Win New Business Via Referrals

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You want to know the quickest path to winning new clients?
Use referrals.

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

What Do Billionaires and Top Sales Reps Have in Common?

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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

Ways to Make Closing a Breeze

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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

How to Overcome Call Reluctance and Pick Up the Phone

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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

Prospecting the Stock Market

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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

Sell Like Your Life Depends on It

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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:

  1. Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
  2. Products and services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
  3. Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales
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Exploiting Your Online Presence for Business Purposes

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“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

Managing Your Most Important Business Contacts

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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

Advice for Contacting Prospective Clients

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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

Is Social Media Worth the Risk?

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“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

Keeping the Focus on Objections

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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

The Role of Intimidation in Your Sales Success

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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

What Do You Do When You Dislike Your Client?

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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

Making the Case for Prospecting

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If you’re like most sales professionals, there’s one part of the sales process that you like less than the rest.

Hubspot.com set out to determine which part of the sales process causes reps to struggle the most, and the survey results were quite interesting:

  • Prospecting 42%
  • Closing 36%
  • Qualifying 22%

Why is prospecting more intimidating and less enjoyed than other parts of the sales process?

Well, to start, let’s look at the definition of prospecting:

“Prospecting is the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that … Read the rest

Do You Really Need to Build a Relationship With Prospects?

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Let’s say we ask this question of the typical sales rep: “Is it important to build a relationship with your prospect in order to make a sale?”

Answers to that question vary but they ultimately sound more or less like these:

  • “Yes, if it’s a major purchase. Nobody buys a complicated product or service without establishing some relationship and level of trust with the provider.”
  • “No. Prospects are too busy, too self-absorbed and too time-starved to build relationships with vendors. People are so overwhelmed that they no longer are interested in becoming friends with salespeople or even the owners/executives of
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The Rule of Thirds: How to Truly Listen

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“Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage,” wrote Publilius Syrus more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome.

Such wise advice from ages ago has never been more relevant. In the modern professional world, we are suffering from a listening crisis.

Actually, it’s a “lack-of-listening” crisis.

Whether your role is executive, managerial, sales or anything else, it’s critically important to your success that you listen.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” wrote Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Too often we get that order mixed up. … Read the rest

How to Attract New Business Opportunities by Writing Articles

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If you’re looking for a way to attract new business, you might consider media exposure (getting quoted in periodicals, websites, radio talk shows, and television news). Such exposure is valuable and helps attract prospects.

However, it’s awfully difficult to earn media quotes. That’s why more and more professionals are blogging and submitting articles to media outlets. There’s great opportunity here. Every major city has numerous media organizations, and many of these depend on outside writers to supply the content.

The writer Robert Benchley once said, “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece, per word or perhaps.” … Read the rest

What to Do When a Gatekeeper Blocks Your Path

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During question-and-answer periods, the same issue keeps coming up in my sales workshops: how to deal with gatekeepers. These people are the receptionists and administrative assistants who stand between you and the decision‑maker you seek.

I’ve probably been asked five times about gatekeepers in just the past three weeks alone. Why does this issue keep coming up? It’s probably because cold prospecting is getting harder. Decision-makers keep getting better at insulating themselves from the outside world. One of their most effective defenses is a diligent gatekeeper.

When it comes to gatekeepers, the biggest mistake you can make is to think … Read the rest

How to Turn Influencers Into Your Champions

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Does your company have raving fans?

The term “raving fans” has become part of the business lexicon ever since Random House released a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles 15 years ago. The book was intended to help companies improve their customer service. The authors’ central message was that you need to go above and beyond, because “satisfied customers just aren’t good enough.”

That book is part of a breadth of publications designed to help companies and individual professionals do a better job of pleasing customers. In fact, we often hear executives spurring their employees to … Read the rest

The Power of Teaming in Sales

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Generally speaking, we learn better and develop better ideas when we work in groups. Human beings are social creatures. Our ability to team up has allowed our species to build amazing structures and advance once-unimaginable technologies.

When two or more people put their heads together and tackle challenging problems, we often end up with amazing innovations. Teams beat individuals.

But those of us who have chosen a career in sales tend to be individualists. Some of us are even considered “lone wolves.”

Now, there are benefits to behaving like an individual when you work in sales. Our profession requires quick … Read the rest

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle

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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

How to Avoid the Fake-Listening Trap

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Ask any sales professional about the key to success, and there’s a good chance they’ll say, “You have to listen to your client.”

As a sales strategist, I meet with many successful sales reps, managers and executives. I always ask them about the secret to successful selling. The answers tend to be similar. One time, after yet another of them mentioned the importance of listening, I responded with a slight tone of frustration in my voice:

“Everyone says that listening to the client is the most important skill a salesperson can have,” I said, “yet few salespeople actually bother to … Read the rest

Think Like a Marketer

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Because you are a business unto yourself with your own brand to promote, it is only logical that you should think like a marketer.

Personal brands are symbolic embodiments of an individual professional that publicly distinguish that person from all other competitors. A brand is a trademark, a distinctive name, and a combination of images that creates associations and expectations in the minds of audience members.

Marketers of products and services are obsessed with branding. Companies hire talented marketers to craft strategic plans for each of their brands and then carry out the communication tactics that are part of the … Read the rest

Turn “Socializing” Into “Networking”

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Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term business success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to “meet a lot of people and build a network.” That was great advice back then and even better advice today.

It’s critically important to participate in the public arena and interact with the people who could become your clients, provide you with valuable information or help you further your causes and beliefs.

While they understand the importance of networking, many professionals do a lousy job of it. It’s easy … Read the rest

What Separates the Good Marketers from the Great Ones?

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image of man on mountain peakIf you go to work every day, you might as well go all the way and shoot for the pinnacle of your profession. It’s a competitive world, so set your sights high. If you’re going to take the risk and invest the time, strive for greatness.

Ever since Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, in 2001, business people worldwide have been fixated on greatness. Why do some companies do so well when a similar competitor languishes? Why do some companies transition from being merely successful to being truly great? What traits and behaviors separate the good … Read the rest

Realizing Hidden Opportunities

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“Great moments are born from great opportunities,” said the late Herb Brooks, one of the world’s most famous hockey coaches.

Brooks certainly seized opportunity during his career. He agreed to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that beat the “unbeatable” Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York, during the famous “Miracle on Ice” game on the way to winning the gold medal. It was a modern-day “David vs. Goliath” matchup. Many coaches would refuse such an overwhelmingly difficult job. In fact, several did.

But Brooks saw opportunity in the monumental challenge of leading a bunch of young, amateur, college all-stars … Read the rest

Managing Your Online Brand In the World’s Best and Worst Marketplace

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“Had a very long day today. Got into an argument with my boss and a client. All I want to do is drink a glass of wine and take it easy, but I have to do laundry tonight. Arrrgh!”

This is the text of a post I once read on a friend’s Facebook page. She was clearly frustrated after a tough day at the office.

There’s nothing earth-shattering about this post and certainly nothing unusual. We all have periodic days we would rather forget. It’s common to come home from work tired out, feeling sick to your stomach, knowing you … Read the rest

Should You Be a Big Fish in Two Ponds?

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On a dark and stormy night…

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. No serious writer would start his article with such a tired old cliché. You probably think I’m some boorish amateur.

But seriously, it is a dark and stormy night. And kind of lonely too. And other than the thunder, it’s awfully quiet.

It’s late Wednesday night, and I’m sitting by myself inside a barbeque joint in Kansas City, Missouri. There’s nothing like driving rain to keep people away from late-night pork ribs and baked beans, so essentially, I have the place to myself. In fact, I’m kind of … Read the rest