Prospecting or Closing: Which is Harder?


A colleague and I talked about the greatest value that a sales professional brings to a company. Is it the ability to prospect for new clients, or is it the ability to close a deal?

Both are extremely important, and neither is terribly easy. That’s why we typically don’t put limits on the income a sales professional can make. We want to incentivize them to keep working hard on a difficult-but-crucial activity that truly is the lifeblood of companies.

We came to the conclusion that, while closing deals is ultimately the most valuable thing we do, prospecting is more difficult. … Read the rest

How to Write Prospecting Messages


You’re in for a treat. I periodically dissect real-life prospecting messages sent by real sales reps. Today is one of those days!

Those who know me know I keep a file of bad prospecting emails. It’s one of my nerdy hobbies. In fact, I could probably create my own Smithsonian exhibit of poorly executed sales emails.

What qualifies a message as a bad prospecting email?

  1. Talking about features and benefits.
  2. Sales reps focusing on what’s valuable to them rather than what’s valuable to the prospect.
  3. Wasting the prospects’ time.

Today, we look at a prospecting email one of my friends … Read the rest

Articles Boost Your Name Recognition


If you’re looking for a way to build your name and personal brand awareness, you might consider media exposure (getting quoted in periodicals, websites, talk shows, and podcasts). Such exposure can help attract prospects or make it so they have heard of you when you reach out to them.

However, it’s awfully difficult to earn media quotes. That’s why some sales pros are blogging and/or submitting articles. There are countless media outlets — both online and traditional — and many of them depend on outside writers to supply the content.

The writer Robert Benchley once said, “The freelance writer is … Read the rest

Sales Pros Stressed Like Entrepreneurs


Some sales pros are true entrepreneurs in that they own their companies.

But all sales pros have entrepreneurial traits. When your job is to approach strangers, build a relationship and convince them to spend money, you’re entrepreneurial. When you’re a person who manufactures new business out of thin air, you’re an entrepreneur.

You could argue that the best sales pros have “entrepreneurial” personalities. That’s a good thing because entrepreneurs are savvy, driven and hard-working people.

The business world puts a lot of emphasis on entrepreneurism. We place successful entrepreneurs on pedestals and look up to them. Much of humanity’s progress … Read the rest

Turning Gatekeepers Into Gate Openers


Many years ago, I wrote a book that required me to conduct interviews with several professionals who had attained celebrity status. In many cases, I had to work with secretaries and administrative assistants in order to get the interviews. These “gatekeepers” played a huge role in determining whether their high-profile bosses would or would not meet with me.

While people normally think of gatekeepers as problematic obstructionists, on a couple of occasions, I landed an interview only because of the gatekeepers. I befriended the gatekeepers in both of those cases and turned them into my advocates. They became my champions. … Read the rest

How to Promote Your Brand Tastefully


It’s a story as old as Hollywood — a teenage movie star eventually turns into a washed-up drug addict with a collection of orange-jumpsuit photos.

It’s also a story as old as professional sports — a star athlete is arrested for punching an autograph seeker in the face.

We commonly see celebrities behaving badly in public, and because of that, the word “celebrity” can have a negative connotation. Nevertheless, society is obsessed with fame and fortune. In fact, some people do outrageous things just in the hope of achieving celebrity status.

Viral social media videos and reality television shows have … Read the rest

Overcoming Sales Objections


Most sales pros 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 we’ll lose the deal, and we only get paid if we close deals. Still other objections are tricky — they’re just plain difficult to respond to in a calm, convincing way.

Whatever your reason for disliking objections, the first step in overcoming them is to not fear them or dread them. Objections are not necessarily bad things. They are a normal … Read the rest

Goals: Tracking Commission Progress


I have delivered three goal-setting workshops for sales teams this week alone.

I talk a lot about goals this time of year because goal-setting is essential for sales success. But there’s one thing you must do after setting your annual goals to make success possible: tracking.

Even if you’re 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 … Read the rest

Prospecting Is the Lifeblood of Sales


Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales and is generally the most important thing a sales professional does. Success or failure in sales can usually be traced — one way or another — back to prospecting.

Given how important prospecting is to sales success, I tend to worry about sales pros this time of year. Why? Because they get too busy to prospect, or at least they think they’re too busy to prospect. When you’re super busy, it’s easy to put off prospecting. If you do that, you’ll pay the price a couple of months later.

Top producers consider prospecting to … Read the rest

Aim Above the Mark to Hit the Mark


Even though we’re into the month of March, there’s still time to think about the months to come this year.

We will likely experience some economic adversity in 2023, but there’s a good chance you’ll thrive if you have the right approach. It’s time to start planning for your production this year. Today I have some best practices for you.

Before we get into the particulars, please know that goals must sit upon a solid foundation. In other words, your goals should move you closer to your dreams while honoring your core values and synthesizing them with your mission and … Read the rest

How to Manage Procurement Departments


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

The Keys to a Successful Pitch


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

What Happens When Your Client Goes Dark


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

How to Sell During a Recession


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

Social Discomfort and Networking


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

Tracking Your Production Is Key


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

Be Wary of the RFP Trap


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

Prospecting vs. Closing


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

The Truth About Closing Deals


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

Why Voicemail Is So Effective


“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, the typical sales rep leaves an average of 70 voicemails per … Read the rest

Emotionally Intelligent Selling


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

Professional Social Media Use


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

Pipeline Management: Time Blocking, Teaming and More


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

Is Frequency Bias Manipulative or Just a Smart Technique?


“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

Content Is King for Sales Too


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 State of Social Selling Today


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
Read the rest

Looking Back at Last Year’s Most Important Advice


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


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?


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


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