The 80/20 Rule

By Mike Moore : Making & Keeping Customers…Training and Coaching for Sales Managers, Salespeople, Interior Designers and Customer Service

Don’t think because you are talking, you are selling. Selling isn’t about how well you can present your products or services. It’s not about how much you know. In fact, it’s not as much about you as you think. You were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should be watching and listening 8o% of the time and talking 20% of the time, and the 80% of the time you are talking, you should be asking questions. You have to be present and pay attention with the right intentions to truly be selling. The following poem helps establish the 80/20 rule for professional sales intentions. You’ll notice that the focus is 80% about the consumer or buyer and 20% about the seller. This is the 80/20 rule of professional sales intentions.

The Sales Professionals Promise

To assist you, not tell you.

To help you, not sell you.

To care more about you,

Than what’s in it for me.

To always do what’s best for you!

By Mike Moore

Why I Can’t Catch a Taxi — And You Can’t Sell

By Jill Konrath

Several weeks ago I was in New York City doing a workshop for a client. I left early to meet with the VP of Sales before the session began. At the front desk of the hotel, when I asked for directions to the coffee shop, I discovered it was almost eight blocks away — which was a shocker since I thought it was just around the corner.

Dang! Now I was going to be late. So, I called Herb to let him know that I was walking as fast as I could. When I got him on the line, he said, “Get a cab. It’ll just take a minute.”

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I like to walk.”

But here’s the truth. I am a total taxi failure. They never stop for me. I can boldly step out into the street to flag one down just like New Yorkers do — and they drive right past me like I don’t even exist. It’s happened so often, that I’ve given up on it.

Clearly I was not born to be a taxi rider.

Over lunch, I finally fessed up to Herb and his leadership team. They laughed at me — and then let me in on a dirty little secret. If the lights on top of the taxi were on, they already had a passenger. If they were unlit, they were for hire.

Duh! No one ever told me that before. In Minnesota, where I live, everyone has a car. We’ve never learned the appropriate taxi-flagging techniques. And, I can assure you that it’s not an innate skill.

What does that have to do with sales? Over the years, hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people have said to me, “I just can’t sell” or “I’m just not a natural born salesperson.”

Here’s the deal. Sales is every bit as much of a skill as taxi-flagging. If you’re having trouble, it’s because you just don’t know how — yet!

  • If no one ever gets back to you, it’s because you don’t know how to pique their curiosity.
  • If you keep hearing the same objections, it’s because you don’t know how to eliminate them.
  • If you keep losing to the same competitor, it’s because you haven’t figured out how to to beat them.
  • If your prospects stay with the status quo too often, it’s because you haven’t helped them understand the value of changing.

But once you learn these things, everything changes. I can’t wait to go back to NYC with my newfound knowledge. This time, I’m confident I’ll catch a taxi.

YOUR TURN: Has anything like this ever happened to you? What did it take to finally figure out that you just weren’t doing it right? Please share your story on Naviga’s facebook page!

Define Success Before You Design It

By Jack Daly

1. “I” Identify “where you are”, your baseline. One can’t begin moving in the right direction until one knows where one is at the present. An effective analogy is to imagine wanting to travel coast to coast. If you didn’t know which coast you were starting from, the journey could be a long and wet one as you started out with just a destination in mind. As well, knowing where you are helps you determine what will be necessary for you to get to the destination.

2. Identify “where you want to be”, your end state goal. Putting this in writing is a must, otherwise we call this dreaming, not goals. Dreams don’t often come true, but goals in writing do. We call this “backward thinking”, determining the end zone and charting back to the present. It’s how you organize your view of the future that determines what the future is.

3. I‘ve heard a number of folks employ the acronym SMART effectively here. The “S” is for Specific. The key is to break down each of our goals into bite size chunks that will lead to getting the goal accomplished. One of my goals is to run a marathon (yea, 26.2 miles) in each of the 50 states. I have further broken this down to 4 per year, and went on to identify the specific 4 for 2004. Specificity!

 4. Next is “M”easureable. Inspect what you expect, with a minimum of a monthly review of results compared to plan. Some of the key candidates here for a sales professional include: phone calls (inbound/outbound), personal visits, presentations, proposals, orders taken, etc.

5. “A”ttainable is next on the list. Challenging, yes, but reachable, otherwise we risk the goals being de-motivating. This I call the reality test. If you are the #10 ranked salesperson in the company, probably not attainable to be #1, at least in a one year timeframe!

 6. “R” is for Realistic, and often this comes down to timeframes. Time blocking and scheduling are the keys to effective implementation. Scheduling your activities is essential to goal attainment.

7. “T” is for Trackable, which underscores the necessity for the activities necessary to accomplishing the goal be something which can be tracked and reported on. For many years I have effectively used the simple calendar, in which I record daily activities related to each of my goal action items, then summarize monthly and compare month-to-month results, as well as year-to-year performance on applicable items.

8. Too many in business think of goals in terms of only business. Broaden your thinking to personal/life quality goals. I once heard Dennis Waitley put this so well: “Most people spend more time planning Christmas and holidays than they do planning their life”. Make your goals multi-dimensionable.

9. Accountability. This is where one turns the heat up on oneself. Share your goals with people you respect and care about, and establish a system to review your performance with them and garner feedback. This review process should be minimally quarterly. I make it a regular practice of giving my goals to my 2 adult children, my wife, and my 2 business partners, for each to review my progress quarterly. Talk about pressure!

10. Once the goals are in writing and a system in place to help get the results, identify a few goals that are 1) non-negotiable, 2) most difficult and 3) most important. This will further emphasize the focus, and Focus Precedes Success.




Brooks on Books: Balancing Planning with Surprise

By The Brooks Group 

In their standout book, Willpower, authors Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, describe the science of self-control in order to help readers understand how to better regulate themselves.

One section – albeit brief – caught my attention. The authors offer a short description of the history of military planning.

Napoleon’s advantage, according to the authors, was his ability to attack and improvise. As he put it, “You engage, and then you wait and see.” Responding to this, the Prussians gained an upper hand by becoming master planners. It worked wonders.

Along came two World Wars when planning was validated.

Fast Forward once again to the Vietnam War where Robert McNamara (who earned his military stripes in the Air Force Office of Statistical Control) was Secretary of Defense. He was a planner-extraordinaire. In that rapidly changing, guerrilla environment, planning wasn’t as effective as it was on the battlefields of the past. Soldiers on the ground needed to be a great deal more adaptable than their plans allowed.

The lesson? Flexibility is key.

How does this apply to your business?

  • As a sales manager, you must be certain your team is well-equipped for every possibility. You should ensure they have the tools they need and aren’t unnecessarily surprised. But, it also means you have to trust them to get things right when you’re not with them during thier face-to-face or phone-to-phone interactions with their prospects. Everything can’t be planned or scripted. Allow them to use their brains.
  • As a seller, you must prepare and be willing to meet your prospect where they are. Don’t go into a sales interaction without a pre-call plan. Don’t be unnecessarily surprised. Develop plans that allow you to be flexible, but not flappable. You’re not paid to read a script, you’re paid to translate your offering into meaningful value to each qualified prospect you encounter.

Our sales seminars cover the delicate balance that must exist. But, you don’t need a class to learn that you have to prepare for every possibility and understand that there’s a surprise on the other side of every desk.

Why prospective customers are laughing at you

By Tom Searcy , CBS

(MoneyWatch) Here’s a dirty little secret: Prospects are laughing at you behind your back. And, I must confess, so am I.
They were laughing at me, too, until I finally discovered exactly what clients said after the handshakes were over and we were by ourselves in the car congratulating each other on a great meeting.

“You all sound the same, and you all say the same thing,” one focus group participant confided. “You say, ‘We are just the right size for you — small enough for personal attention, big enough to get the job done.’ Firms with five people say that, and firms with 500 people say that.”

Another participant added: “Oh, and you are so proud of how many years you have been in business. Like that matters. I have been golfing longer than Tiger Woods, but that doesn’t make me a better golfer.”

All of that to say, before you can begin seriously attracting prospects, you must create a marketing genetic code that is attractive. All of your selling messages, from networking discussions to speeches, will contain the elements of this marketing DNA. Here are 10 steps that will help you create these all-important marketing genes:

1. Name it. Create a business, product, or website name that gives potential clients a hint at the results you can produce for them. The worst possible name or website name is your name. Sorry to say, clients don’t want us, they want results.

2. Choose words wisely. Write a headline for your website and marketing materials that describes your audience and the results you produce for them. Do this in no more than 10 words.

3. Name your prospect’s pain. What are your client’s worries, frustrations, and concerns that you help solve? This is also called the FUD factor: fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

4. Pick a process. Describe your solution or methodology for solving these pains. What process do you follow to produce results? Offering a proprietary problem-solving process that you name and trademark is best. This answers the all-important question in their minds: “Why should I do business with you instead of one of your competitors?”

5. Mention the myths. State the common misperception or myth that holds many back from getting results. Why doesn’t everybody do what you named in step 4?

6. Do this, don’t do that. Get specific with prospects. Tell your prospects what they need to do in general to solve their problem. Pretend they weren’t hiring you and you had to describe the steps they should take for success.

7. Include other good things. List any other benefits they get from following your methods. What other good things do people get when they do what you advise?

8. Name the numbers. Elaborate on your track record of providing measurable results for clients. This is not about years in business — it’s about quantifiable success. Be as specific as possible. Use numbers, percentages, and time factors.

9. Be helpful online. Create a website with free articles on how to solve these pains. Each article should be about 300 to 600 words. What’s a good format? Consider the numbered tips approach you are reading right now (easy to write, easy to read).

10. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. No, not an offer that might remind anyone of Don Corleone in “The Godfather.” Offer prospects a free special report on your website. You are offering to trade a valuable piece of information for their email address. Tell them they will also receive a tips eNewsletter from you. Assure them you will maintain their privacy and that they can easily opt out of your list anytime they want.

Don’t sound like everyone else and you won’t be treated like everyone else. Follow this advice and you will get the last laugh.

Tom Searcy  is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and the foremost expert in large account sales. Tom is the author of RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business and the co-author of Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company.


Active listening – a forgotten key to sales success

by Richard Ruff, Sales Training Connection

When talking about sales skills, the first thing that comes to mind for many is asking questions. Rightly so. Asking questions, however, is not one-way … often the best questions are ones that build on prior statements – resulting in a sales call that resembles a business conversation with a smooth flow between those participating.

This necessitates the sales person not only hearing what the customer says but actually listening to what’s been said. And, the customer must know you have listened. This means listening isn’t a passive activity – it’s an active sport. What do we know about listening?

Remember the old adage – “in one ear and out the other.” Unfortunately this is one of those cases where the old adage rings true. Research tells us that after listening to someone talk, immediately after you only remember ½ of what was said. And after 8 hours, you only remember ½ of that!

This means sales people need to follow the “100 Percent Rule” – sales people must take 100% of the responsibility for making sure the customer understands them. And take 100% of the responsibility for understanding what the customer says. Let’s explore seven best practices for getting that right:

1. Test Understanding. “That’s a need I haven’t heard you talk about. Before we move on could you just tell me more about …” Testing understanding invites the customer to continue to discuss or explain so you can achieve a more comprehensive understanding of their needs and opportunities.

2. Summarize What the Customer Says. Summarizing is a great way for sales people todemonstrate they understand what the customer’s saying. “From what you have said it sounds like your major concern with the existing support could be summarized this way …” Summarizing restates what the customer said in a way that demonstrates understanding. Here, it is important to distinguish Summarizing from “parroting” – the latter being a bad idea. Summarizing paraphrases only the essentials and is stated in your words.

3. Build Support. That’s an interesting point – might there be other reasons for building that into the equation? For example, we’ve found in a similar case that …” Building support reinforces or extends the customer’s support or agreement by applying what you have learned from a previous experience or by suggesting its application to a new situation. In a business development conversation it can provide a proactive approach against competitive action and can provide additional answer to the question – Why us?

4. Take Notes. You can listen four to five times faster than someone can talk so use the time to evaluate what is being said and take notes. Do it in a transparent way because it indicates you are interested in what the customer is saying. One unintended outcome from talking notes is often the more notes you take, the more the customer will share. And, of course, by taking notes you’re more likely to recall what was said and what commitments were made

5. Evaluate the Entire Conversation. It is important to not only listen to what is being said, but also to listen to how it is being said, and to what is not being said. Qualifiers or evasive language is informative and the absence of information about a particular issue can be an important signal for future action.

6. Tune into High Fidelity Situations. Sometimes it is important to turn up the volume. When topics enter the conversation such as: new challenges, high risk issues, or key decision criteria it is time to up your game. Plus it’s a good time to pay attention to non-verbals.

7. Be On the Same Page. It always a good idea to remember that a good sales call is all about keeping your eye on the customer. A classic trap is doing a really good job in talking about the wrong thing. This means periodically asking and really listening to the response as to whether the topic under discussion is a priority for the customer. If the answer is no – it’s time to change topics.

And, of course, these seven points apply to formal sales presentations, too!

If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to our blog, Sales Training Connection.

©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC


There’s Always Someone Cheaper Out There!

by Ken Wax, Sales Gravy Featured Blogger

There’s always someone cheaper out there. The question is, what do you do about it?

Let’s make it even tougher. What if they’re providing something that seems identical to what you’re selling?

Here’s an example of what I mean, from a business that’s probably even more competitive than yours.

It happened at the end of a speech I was giving in Lake Tahoe. It was a meeting of about 120 franchise owners. They were in a low-tech part of the high tech business: renting PCs to companies. It happens to be a surprisingly big business, catering to the shifting or seasonal needs and accounting rules of corporations.

At the end, one person stood and asked:

“What do you think we should be doing when local companies undercut our prices?”

The murmur that followed told me this was not a trivial problem for them. I asked,

“What do you do now when that happens?”

“We match their price.”

We discussed it a while, then I shook up the room. Keep in mind, this price cutting was costing them every day. Plus it made them feel helpless.

“What would happen if, instead, you said to that customer,

“Look, in this business, there are no secrets. We all pay the same for PCs, and the trucks we need to deliver them cost the same to run. Every company has to pay for support people who get those PCs running and fix any problems that may arise.

“There’s only one way a company can offer you a substantially lower price – something has to give. Corners must be cut – there’s simply no other way.

“It might be the staffing of the support team. Or by having a longer response time to replace a problem machine because they have fewer trucks, drivers,  or backup machines.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘What am I using these PCs for?’ ‘How much am I paying in salaries to the people who are using them? ‘ What’s the impact on our business when that happens?’

“That’s why we have so many companies counting on us. They aren’t just looking at the price of the machine, but the value of knowing your team will have the functioning equipment you’re counting on them to have for your business.”

There was silence for a second, then applause burst out.

Business owners are a tough bunch; the handshakes after the talk meant a lot. Even weeks after, I was still receiving notes about how this had changed everything.

Ken Wax is an author, speaker, and adviser on selling to companies ranging from IBM and Monster to mid-size companies and start-ups.

He has led sales teams at start-ups and also at industry giants, and has interviewed, hired and developed hundreds of salespeople in his career. Three of Ken’s companies have been acquired; one has gone public.

He has been the keynote speaker at dozens of conferences on five continents, and has written over 120 magazine articles published around the world. Ken’s 2011 book, ‘The Technology Salesperson’s Handbook’, is on Amazon and Ken is currently working on two new books on selling.  He teaches seminars and workshops for clients; they’re specific to that company’s challenges with immediately-useful approaches and techniques.

Ken brings many of his most popular teachings to Sales Gravy; you can learn more about him at www.kenwax.comor by searching his name on LinkedIn or Amazon.