Selling Is Changing — Not Really

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This past week I’ve received three separate e-mails from various sales gurus talking about how much sales has changed. While the internet, social media, and advances in technology have altered some of the peripheral aspects of selling, the foundational principles and keys that lead to sales success have remained the same.

Sales Facts That Will Always Remain the Same

  • Sales is still a numbers game

Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time failure in sales is due to a lack of activity — in other words, not making enough calls. Now that we have the Internet, I know sales reps who spend … Read the rest

What Leadership Needs to Know About Sales

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In the leadership role you probably already get that sales is the primary key to massive success and prosperity.

As you know, the most successful companies sell better and more than everyone else. Starbucks doesn’t have the best coffee, they’ve simply sold an enormous number of people on doing business with them. That said, to ensure colossal success for your company, here are the sales facts you want to ensure your company is living by.

Fact #1: Sales Has to Be at the Top of the Food Chain

Everything starts and stops with sales. Without sales, there is no service … Read the rest

Holding Salespeople Accountable

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One of the biggest issues I see when it comes to managing sales teams is a lack of accountability. Here are several steps to address this particular problem.

Set High Standards During the Hiring Process

Whatever your standard expectations are for your salespeople, double those expectations when talking to a potential new hire. For example, if you expect your salespeople to make 50 phone calls a day, tell the candidate it’s 100. If you expect them to go out and knock on 25 doors a day, tell them it’s 50. If you expect them to work until 7 at night, … Read the rest

If Peyton Manning Opened a Competing Business in Your Town….

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Scary thought, right? Why? Because you know within three to five years they’d own 90 to 100 percent of the business in the area and if you weren’t out of business, you’d be hanging on by a shoestring. There are several reasons why this group, even with no prior experience in your industry, and even without their celebrity status to rely on, would absolutely dominate your market. Here they are.

Reason #1: Completely unreasonable, some might even say insane, commitment

If you called their business at midnight on Saturday, how long do you think it would be before you spoke … Read the rest

How to Bring Youth into Your Organization

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Almost every industry I talk to these days is struggling with bringing youth in. How do you get them interested in your industry? How do you get them to take you seriously? How do you get them to work hard without thinking they’re entitled to everything without actually having to work for it? Here are some answers.

Step 1: Realize There Are Some Great Millennials Out There

The fact that most of the youngest generation in the workforce seems to be entitled, self-centered, has no work ethic, and expects success overnight is first, not quite as bad as it seems … Read the rest

How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make It in Sales?

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I am of the belief that pretty much anyone can make it in sales if they are determined enough. Sales can be learned. I am proof of that. After struggling in school and being an abysmal failure at the onset of my sales career, if I can be successful, you can too. After all, as a former president once said, this isn’t rocket surgery.

Granted, some personality types and skillsets are more cut out for sales but the bottom line is: if you are committed, you can be successful. That said, what must you be willing to do to be … Read the rest

What Salespeople Can Learn From the Presidential Race

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While the presidential race is showing us many qualities of politicians that we don’t want to emulate such as: bad-mouthing the competition, vacillating on the issues, and bending truths, there are several other qualities that we can emulate to make ourselves super-successful as salespeople.

Qualities of Politicians You Do Want to Emulate

  • Put Yourself Out There

The successful politicians who get their name out and are heard through the noise, are great at putting themselves out there and letting everyone know they are there. They seem to have mastered the primary fear that stops most salespeople: the fear of rejection. … Read the rest

Why Your Grandfather Would Outsell Today’s Salesperson

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With the development of the Internet, social media, and the “new” relationship and solution selling techniques, there seems to be a belief out there that today’s salespeople are superior to those of the past. As you can probably gather from the title, I don’t necessarily agree. Here’s why.

Here are the key factors that give the old guard an advantage over the new guard:

  • Preparation and Sales Skills

When my dad went for training at IBM in the early ’60s, it was primarily sales training. Yes, you learned the product too, but they made sure you knew everything about selling: … Read the rest

Sales Is Rigged in Favor of the Hard Workers and Self‑Disciplined

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Lately I’ve heard several politicians saying that America is rigged so that only the rich can win. They’re dead wrong. America is still rigged for the people who are willing to roll up their sleeves, work extremely hard, and sacrifice short-term pleasure today for long-term gain tomorrow. It’s rigged for those willing to stick a hand out to help others vs. those looking for a handout. In the largest economy ever created on the planet, America is still the land of opportunity. And life will still pay whatever price you ask, but it’s not just going to hand you the … Read the rest

The Definitive Answer to Why You Should Cold Call

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There continues to be controversy as to whether or not cold calling works and whether or not you should do it. First, yes, it does still work. Second, yes, you should still do it. Here’s why and here’s how.

Why You Should Cold Call

Cold calling is the most difficult sales task, and that’s exactly why you should never stop doing it. It’s simple, if you can effectively contact people cold and get results, you’ve conquered the most difficult sales task and you can learn and do any other part of the sales process.

The reason why the vast majority … Read the rest

Customer Information You Need to Build Super-Strong Relationships

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Any time the subject of relationships comes up and I ask how important they are in the overall sales and business process, I usually get the answer that they are the most important part.

I think we all know that the more a prospect or customer likes us, the more likely they are to conduct business with us regardless of most other factors and in fact, a prospect will buy a higher-priced, inferior product from someone they like vs. someone they don’t.

Make no mistake, building solid relationships takes time, effort, energy, and money and that’s precisely why most people … Read the rest

The Biggest Issues I See in Sales Organizations

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While there are lots of potential obstacles and roadblocks to building a great sales organization, there are several blatant issues that are responsible for about 90% of failures.

The Biggest Issues That Derail Sales Organizations

  • Issue #1: No Solid Hiring Process

A solid sales organization starts with solid people. Having solid people starts with having a solid hiring process. Look, salespeople interview well. That’s their job. One person I know had six jobs in 12 months. He was completely inept so he only lasted a short period of time, in one case three hours, but he was good at selling … Read the rest

No, You Didn’t Lose Your Largest Account Because of Price

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This past week an insurance agency called me for help because they just lost their largest account that they’ve had for the past 24 years. When I asked how that happened, the clear, confident response was, “Price!” The only piece of good news I could glean from this initial exchange was that my gag reflex is working perfectly.

If you think you lost your great, long-term customer based upon price….

First, understand that people don’t change for the sake of changing, especially if they’ve been with you for a substantial amount of time. The only way a long-term customer … Read the rest

Filling the Sales Pipeline

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If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you have more than likely experienced the ebb and flow of prospects in your pipeline from time to time. We all know there will be certain days, weeks, and months that are heavy with appointments, servicing of accounts, and other items that make it difficult to find time to prospect. That said, here are some ideas to ensure that you always have plenty of prospects in the pipeline.

How to Always Have Plenty of Prospects

  • First, You Have to Be Prospecting Every Day

Even on your busiest day, you’ve got … Read the rest

What Makes the Top Salespeople the Top Salespeople?

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While the answer to this question might seem obvious, the top sales success traits aren’t always that simple. After more than 27 years in the industry, I’ve seen lots of great salespeople and all of them always have the following traits.

Success Trait #1: Laser Focus on What’s Important

No matter what’s going on with the economy, in the industry, or in the world in general, top salespeople always hit their numbers. They always manage to make the calls, and ultimately, the sales that they need to make. This comes from the realization that, as a salesperson, only one thing … Read the rest

Create Your Own Economy

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No matter what business you’re in, there will always be one or two salespeople or businesses that are completely knocking it out of the park and selling tons more and doing lots more business than everyone else. Even when market or economic conditions are bad, these companies and individuals are still killing it. They are able to do this because they create their own economy. They are not dependent upon outside forces nor are they victims of outside negative conditions that leave most businesses reeling or even out of business. The good news here is twofold: first, anyone can create … Read the rest

How to Build Your Selling Confidence

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The biggest issue I see with salespeople, by far, is a lack of confidence. While most salespeople deal with this in quiet desperation, there are also the loud ego-maniacs who, while seeming to have too much confidence, in reality also don’t have enough and are simply overcompensating. This lack of confidence and belief leads to a fear of making phone calls, knocking on doors, and otherwise doing whatever it takes to be successful.

Rules for Increased Confidence

Rule #1: Stop making excuses and instead, develop your sales skills.

Two days ago someone told me the only reason he lost a … Read the rest

How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Team

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Getting the most out of your sales team will most likely take some work and effort. That said, here’s a fairly straightforward, step-by-step process that will maximize team sales and performance.

Steps to Maximum Sales Team Performance

Step 1: Remove the Roadblocks

Roadblocks include paperwork, computer work, order entry, and all the other day-to-day items that don’t have your salespeople in front of a prospect or customer. These should all be delegated to highly capable, competent people. The only activities that pay your salespeople, and ultimately you, are these:

  • Prospecting.
  • Presenting.
  • Closing.

In addition to those three activities, your salespeople … Read the rest

Successful Sales Follow-up

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One of the biggest reasons salespeople don’t close more business is that they either don’t follow up enough or they don’t follow up properly. Here are the keys to close more sales by following up the right way.

Follow Up at Least 12 Times

The average salesperson follows up with a prospect once or twice. The majority of sales are made between the 4th and 12th contact. As a result, you need a step-by-step follow-up system that consists of at least 12 contacts. Two of the most important aspects of follow-up are consistency and commitment. Having and sticking to a … Read the rest

What Makes a Successful Sales Meeting?

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My friend Steve Lishanski has a saying that 80 percent of life is common sense but only 20 percent of people are using it. In my experience, a similar rule applies to sales meetings: 80 percent are a complete waste of time because simple common sense was never applied. Follow these rules for effective sales meetings and you will no longer find yourself in the 80 percent.

Rules for Powerful Sales Meetings

Rule #1: Keep Your Meetings Short, Positive and Energized

Most of the sales meetings I’ve been to are too long, and when people leave them they are tired … Read the rest

Key Factors That Determine Business and Sales Success

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The factors on the following pages are critical to success in business and sales, and if you have these in place, your success is virtually guaranteed.

Factor #1: Mindset

Mindset is the most important element because with it, the other two will naturally follow. The most important aspect of mindset is having an expectant, positive attitude. Attitude will determine how far you get in life, how happy you will be, and even how long you’ll live. No one with a negative, defeatist attitude ever achieved anything great. Also, people want to be around and conduct business with positive, upbeat people … Read the rest

Hard Sell or Soft Sell?

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On the surface, this question may seem like a no-brainer, so let’s begin by defining both of these terms.

When I talk about hard sell, I’m not talking about hammering someone into doing something that isn’t right for him. I’m talking about being direct and getting the prospect involved in what he needs, cutting through fear, denial, and other roadblocks that can stop a sale.

By soft sell, I’m not talking about using touchy-feely language and letting the prospect completely control the process. Rather, I’m talking about listening with empathy and truly understanding your prospect and his needs, putting yourself … Read the rest

The Top Excuses Salespeople Use

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After more than 26 years in sales and sales management, I’ve heard many excuses from struggling salespeople. Here are the most popular ones and my thoughts on each.

The Top Excuses That Lead to Sales Failure

  • Our Prices Are Too High

First and foremost, if low price were the only factor, there would only be one company in business in each industry: the company with the lowest price. My guess is that you have many competitors. I’m also guessing that the lowest-price provider has the smallest segment of the market, or they’re really close to the bottom. This is because … Read the rest

Keys to Beating the Competition

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There are three skills that will allow you to beat the competition almost every time.

  • Connect and Build Super‑Strong Relationships

Assuming you have at least an average product with a reasonable price, your ability to build trust and rapport and develop a relationship with the prospect are by far the most important elements when competing. All products and services have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. If people like you and trust you more than your competitors, then even if your product is higher priced and not as good, they will still buy from you. Again, price and value differences … Read the rest

How to Significantly Increase Business

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You can absolutely double, triple, or even quadruple your business if you’re committed, but make no mistake, it’s going to take a gut-wrenching, monumental effort. So if you’ve got the stomach for it, put on your helmet, fasten your seatbelt, and follow this plan.

Steps to a Massive Business Increase

Step 1: Start With What Built This Country Many Years Ago

In other words, start with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. No whining, no complaining, no entitlement, just hard work, self-discipline and a great attitude.

Hard work is the reason why the average legal immigrant to this country … Read the rest

How to Get the “Wow” Response From Customers

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The e-mail came in at 9:07 p.m. and I responded immediately. The customer response: “Wow! That was quick. Thanks. Trying to get my staff to deliver those ‘wow’ moments myself.”

The truth is, these days it’s easier than ever to create the “wow” response with customers mostly because customer service, follow-up, and all related business protocol leave so much to be desired. Not only are most companies not delivering “wow” service, most are failing to meet even average expectations. Even though it’s easier than ever to get noticed, there are some definite steps to making sure you step up, stand … Read the rest

Sales Lessons From Secretariat

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I wrote this on June third, so it’s more than likely that by the time you read this, we either have another Triple-Crown Winner in California Chrome, or we don’t. [Editor’s Note: We don’t. California Chrome finished fourth in the Belmont]. Either way, as the Belmont Stakes rolls around each year, I’m reminded of perhaps the most famous horse ever and winner of the Triple-Crown back in 1973, Secretariat. If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Secretariat, you need to. It’s both inspirational and motivational, the movie provides us with some great sales — as well as life — lessons. Read the rest

How to Connect With Anyone

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Before you can sell or influence anyone, you have to make a positive connection so they like and trust you. Here are some keys to connecting with anyone.

When in Rome…

If you’ve ever visited a non-English-speaking country, you undoubtedly tried to learn a few words or brought some sort of translation tool with you. Of course you did that so you could communicate and travel most effectively. Perhaps you also did it to show respect. If you didn’t, you were probably viewed as an arrogant American. Also, your trip was probably not as pleasant as it would have been … Read the rest

90 Percent of Sales Success Is…

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Not to be clichéd, but in reality most of life and business success is so simple that it borders on cliché. While the saying that “90 percent of success is just showing up” is true, there’s a lot behind that 90 percent. First, most people won’t do the hard work necessary to show up where and when they need to. Second, it isn’t just showing up that matters, it’s how you show up.

What it Means to Show Up

Showing up means your number shows up on caller-ID, it means you physically show up on the doorstep, it means showing … Read the rest

The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned About Selling for a Living

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After more than 26 years as a successful salesperson, here is what I know to be true about sales.

Six Sales Lessons

1. If you’re looking for 9-to-5 and safety and security, sales is not for you.

Sales really is the hardest high-paying work or the easiest low-paying work. Top salespeople are extremely hard workers, they get in early, stay late, and most work the weekends. While it’s true that well-established salespeople sometimes cut back a bit on their hours and weekends, when needed, they are still able to call upon a great work ethic and put in the extra … Read the rest