How To Maintain A Positive Sales Mindset When All Is Going Wrong

By Sean McPheat, Managing Director of MTD Sales Training

Positive thinking is a wonderful thing.  As a professional sales person, you must have the ability to focus on the positive and handle negative thoughts as well as negative and even adverse reality a lot better than the average person must.

But let’s face it; sometimes not only is the positive thinking much easier said than it is done, but usually  thinking alone is not going to help.  In our business, sometimes things just go awry and result in lost income and extreme frustration.  While this is true in every profession, as a sales person, you must maintain a positive and focused attitude in spite of real conditions.

Not Beyond Your Control

The main problem that ensures in this instance is that sales people begin to feel that the problems are beyond their control.  Once you feel that you are at the mercy of circumstance, it’s all over.

These two simple, yet effective action items below will show you that you still have control and will help you keep your mindset on track!

#1 – Check the Numbers

Investigate and find out the truth.  Do some detailed reporting on your sales activities. When you check your sales activity numbers, you will find either one of two situations:

A: You will find that you have been doing the right thing

You run several activity reports from your CRM and you find that all the numbers are on or above par.   You have made the correct number of cold calls, sent out the right amount of emails and brochures.  You knocked on enough doors, asked for enough orders; you did your job.

If you discover this, you should jump for joy, because the law of averages owes you a huge payday.  This is not some way to psyche yourself up—it is the truth.  For example, if you have a concrete closing average of 20%, yet without any changes to other factors, you have closed only 10% for a while, you can bet that your closing average will catch up with you!

B: You find that have not been doing the right thing

On the other hand, should you check the data and find that you have not exercised the correct work ethic, then you have found the reason why things are bad. For instance, you know that to be consistent you must do 5 presentations per week, but the data shows that you have only averaged 3.5 per week over the last two months.  At first, such enlightenment will make you feel even worse.  However, it is short-lived because you can so easily change this situation; you can fix it.

So first, check the facts, the real data.  If you find that you have dropped the ball, you know exactly how to fix the problem.  If you are up to speed on your work, then relax…there’s a pot of gold around the corner.  The situation is not out of your hands.

 #2 – Short Term Work Ethic Goals

The second way to help get your mind focused is to set some different types of goals.  When things are bad, that usually means sales are in the crapper and income is tight.  It is only natural at that time to focus on more sales and commissions.  However, when that does not happen, it drives your attitude further in to the dumps.

Instead, set very short, sales activity goals that you can accomplish every day.  For example, set a goal to make 5 more phone calls than the day before.  Or, set a goal to send out 20 more emails this week than the last week.  Do one additional sales presentation than you did last week.

Not only do these sales activities increase the chances for the sales you need, they also help you see real successes every day.  They are tangible objectives that you can accomplish, and they are positive!

As you can see, both of these action items depend largely on good record keeping and CRM.  Often, the doldrums come due to false or inaccurate information and your imagination takes over.  To keep your mindset right in the face of apparent doom…

Check The Numbers, Then Work The Numbers!

 

Author credit: Managing Director of MTD Sales Training, Sean McPheat is regarded as a thought leader on modern day selling, management skills and business improvement. Sean has been featured on CNN, ITV, BBC, SKY, Forbes, Arena Magazine and has over 250 other media credits to his name. Sean’s Sales Blog is visited by 5,000 people every week and his 6 Sales Training Audios are free to download. Click here to follow Sean online.  

 

 

 

Best Way to Introduce Yourself

By Jeff Haden, Inc.com

Who is the most important audience? Hint: It’s not the people you meet.

 

Whenever you introduce yourself, the person you meet is not the most important audience.

You are the most important audience.

Here’s why.

I like to ride bicycles. I’m not super fit. And I’m not super fast. But I like riding, and in weak moments occasionally even think of myself as a “cyclist.”

So occasionally I ride in mass participation events like gran fondos. The average participant tends to be a serious cyclist: Many are triathletes, some are amateur racers, and occasionally even a few professionals show up. I live in a valley between two mountain ranges, so our events are not for the faint of fitness.

I was standing in the start area for a gran fondo that involved climbing four mountains when a man rolled over towards me. My guess is he picked me out since I was clearly one of the older riders in the field. (That was a delightful sentence to write.) As he stopped he struggled to unclip from his pedals and almost fell.

“Morning,” he said, the bass in his voice turned up to 10. “I’m Louis Winthorpe III*. I’m the CEO of WeKickSeriousButt Enterprises.”**

“Jeff,” I said. I shook his hand.

“I am really looking forward to this,” he said. “I could use the break to recharge the old batteries. Just in the last few days I’ve had to finalize a huge contract, visit two of our plants, and sign off on plans for a new marketing push.”

How do you respond to that? “Wow, you’ve been busy,” was the best I could manage.

“Oh, not really,” he said, trying and failing to seem humble. “Just same stuff, different day. I just wish I wasn’t so busy. I only have time to do the shorter course today. I would have absolutely killed the long ride. What about you?”

“I’m afraid the long ride is going to kill me,” I said.

“Feel free to latch on to my wheel,” he said, referring to drafting in another rider’s slipstream. “I’ll tow you along for as long as you can hang with me.” Then he slowly and carefully clipped into one pedal and wobbled away.

Cocky? Full of himself? Sure, but only on the surface: His $12,000 bike, pseudo-pro gear, and “I rule the business world” introduction were an unconscious effort to protect his ego. What his introduction really said was, “While I might not turn out to be good at cycling, that’s okay because out in the real world, where it really matters, I am The Man.”

While he introduced himself to me, he was his real audience.

And that’s a shame. For the next six or eight hours he could have just been a cyclist. He could have struggled and suffered and maybe even rekindled the ember of youth inside us that burns a little less brightly with each passing year.

How do you introduce yourself? When you feel insecure, do you prop up your courage with your introduction? Do you include titles or accomplishments or “facts” when you don’t need to?

If so, your introduction is all about you, not your audience.

Instead:

See less as more.

Brief introductions are always best. Provide the bare minimum the other person needs to know, not in an attempt to maintain distance, but because during a conversation more about you can be revealed in a natural, unforced, and therefore much more memorable way.

Stay in context.

If you meet another parent at a school meeting, for example, just say, “Hi, I’m Mark. My daughter is in third grade.” Keep your introduction in context with the setting. If there is no real context, like at a gran fondo, just say, “Hi, I’m Mark. Good luck.”

Embrace understatement.

Unless you’re in a business setting, your job title is irrelevant. Even if you are in fact the CEO of WeKickSeriousButt Enterprises, just say you work there. To err is human. To err humble is divine.

Focus on the other person.

The other person is the only person that matters. Ask questions. Actually listen to the answers. The best connections never come from speaking; the best connections always come from listening.

That day I rolled into the finishing area well over six hours later. I stopped and slumped over my handlebars beside a small cluster of riders who had finished well before me. They were already changed and working on a post-ride beer.

One of them looked over and said, “How was it?”

“It sucked,” I said.

They all laughed, and he said, “And it was awesome, right?”

I smiled, because it was. He reached over and gave me a fist bump. “I’ll grab you a beer and you can tell us all about it,” he said. I looked forward to the conversation more than the beer. Acceptance and camaraderie are earned by effort, not granted by title.

At that moment I happened to see Louis, sitting alone as he packed up his gear. I felt a twinge of sadness because he never allowed himself to just be a rider. He never gave himself the chance to fit in, enjoy a shared purpose, and to simply be a cyclist among cyclists.

When you introduce yourself, embrace the moment and the setting for what it says about you in that moment, not in comparison to your titles or accomplishments.

Just be whoever you are, skills and struggles and triumphs and failures and all. You are your true audience, even when you introduce yourself.

Always be yourself–especially to yourself.

* Clearly not his real name. (Trading Places!)

** Not really, but not far off.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up fromghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

Develop Loyal Customers to Improve Business Growth

By Dennis Sommer, CEO Executive Business Advisors

Developing loyal customers is a simple and proven tactic used by top performers to improve business growth in today’s challenging economy.  Improving business growth is not easy.  This simple strategy can help you achieve your goals.

Do you pat yourself on the back because you have so many satisfied customers? Well, having satisfied customers may not be good enough. In today’s tough economic times true success will be measured by the number of “loyal” customers you have.

Sure, every company, salesman, and consultant wants satisfied customers, but can or should you do better than that? Should you have loyal customers?

What’s the difference? Satisfied customers are still willing to listen to your competitors, but loyal customers think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

You develop loyal customers by continually asking your satisfied customers if there’s anything else you can do for them. And once you have a loyal customer, make them part of your team by asking them to refer you to their friends and colleagues.

How To Dazzle Your Customer Base

1. Go out of your way for loyal customers. Do them a favor. Locate a hard to find item or, if your staff is tied up, do the work yourself.

2. Under promise and over deliver. Do they need it in two weeks? Give it to them in one.

3. Offer your best customers a benefit they didn’t even know existed. Did they miss a special offer? Give them a discount anyway.

4. Follow up, especially after a big order or a major project. Are they satisfied, or is there something else you can do for them?

5. Above all, be honest. Don’t oversell goods or services. Show them you have their best interests at heart, and you’ll have a customer for life.

Keeping Loyal Customers

Consider this, it costs six times more to sell something to a new customer than to an existing one. Follow these steps to keep your loyal customer base.

1. Within two days of making a sale, send your customers a thank you note.

2. Thirty days later, send another note or call to find out if the customer has any questions.

3. Within 90 days, send buyers another note telling them about related products or services.

4. After nine months, ask for the names of three people you can add to your mailing list.

5. On the one year anniversary of the sale, send a card, perhaps with a discount included.

Never stop courting your loyal customers. Loyal customers should make up 50 to 75% of your customer base.

How Do You Manage “Talk Time” Selling Activities?

 

By Michael Pedone 


“Shouldn’t my Social Prospecting (LinkedIn, Twitter, Emails etc) be counted towards my TALK TIME selling activities?”

(This question was in response to a post on how much talk time a salesperson should have per day where I recommended 60-dials & or 3 hours of talk time per day)

Answer:

Prospecting, INMHO, no matter what your method (including social media etc) should not be counted as “talk time” for this very simple reason…

You can prospect / generate all the leads you want, but if your talk time is low, it won’t matter.

Most salespeople make the mistake of using what I call the “hunt and peck” method of selling… they come in to work, fire up the computer and start prospecting for leads… find one, call it, leave voicemail… Prospect for another lead, find one, call and deal with gatekeeper… prospect for another lead (etc, etc)

This is an ineffective sales strategy. I’ve found it to be much more profitable to have my list of calls (divided up into two groups:

  • First time calls and
  • Follow-up calls

These groups should be ready to go before ever walking into the office the next day.

Time Management Prospecting

9 A.M. till 9:45 A.M.

If I come in and have my first time prospecting calls lined up and set aside time from 9 A.M. till 9:45 A.M. and do nothing but make first time calls, by my third call, I’m getting into a rhythm and I’m prepared on the type of lead so I’ll know what to say no matter if I get the gatekeeper, voicemail or prospect.

9:45 A.M to 10:00 A.M.

Now, from 9:45 A.M to 10:00 A.M. I can check email, take a quick break etc.

10:00 A.M. till 10:45 A.M.

I’m back at it hitting the phones calling a list I had already prepared the day before.

Following a system like that you can knock out 40 calls before lunch or have a high talk time before Noon (assuming you have a solid sales process / posses top phone skills)

1:00 P.M. till 1:45 P.M.

Lunch time do your thing, and at 1:00 P.M. till 1:45 P.M. make your follow-up calls.

2:00 P.M. to 2:45 P.M. the same.

By 3 P.M. you’ll have made more calls in one day than some do in 3 days and you’ll want a break from the phone… So now take an hour to prospect, build your list for tomorrow etc. Then get back on the phones to finish the day out.

Of course you’ll have call backs and new inbound leads coming in and you’ll handle those on a case by case basis, but I’ve found that having some structure / game plan produces better results than does being a Captain Wing It.

So to answer your question, NO, for me, I would not allow myself to use “prospecting” as part of the 3 hours of talk time. The other 5 hours of the day could be part of that, but not the 3 hours of talk time.

 

Relationships Are Everything

By Brian Tracy, Salesopedia

Your Foundation for Success
Relationship Selling is the core of all modern selling strategies. Your ability to develop and maintain long-term customer relationships is the foundation for your success as a salesperson and your success in business. Relationship selling requires a clear understanding of the dynamics of the selling process as they are experienced by your customer.

Propose a Business Marriage
For your customer, a buying decision usually means a decision to enter into a long-term relationship with you and your company. It is very much like a “business marriage.” Before the customer decides to buy, he can take you or leave you. He doesn’t need you or your company. He has a variety of options and choices open to him, including not buying anything at all. But when your customer makes a decision to buy from you and gives you money for the product or service you are selling, he becomes dependent on you. And since he has probably had bad buying experiences in the past, he is very uneasy and uncertain about getting into this kind of dependency relationship.

Fulfill Your Promises
What if you let the customer down? What if your product does not work as you promised? What if you don’t service it and support it as you promised? What if it breaks down and he can’t get it replaced? What if the product or service is completely inappropriate for his needs? These are real dilemmas that go through the mind of every customer when it comes time to make the critical buying decision.

Focus on the Relationship
Because of the complexity of most products and services today, especially high-tech products, the relationship is actually more important than the product. The customer doesn’t know the ingredients or components of your product, or how your company functions, or how he will be treated after he has given you his money, but he can make an assessment about you and about the relationship that has developed between the two of you over the course of the selling process. So in reality, the customer’s decision is based on the fact that he has come to trust you and believe in what you say.

Build a Solid Trust Bond
In many cases, the quality of your relationship with the customer is the competitive advantage that enables you to edge out others who may have similar products and services. The quality of the trust bond that exists between you and your customers can be so strong that no other competitor can get between you.

Keep Your Customers for Life
The single biggest mistake that causes salespeople to lose customers is taking those customers for granted. This is a form of “customer entropy.” It is when the salesperson relaxes his efforts and begins to ignore the customer. Almost 70 percent of customers who walked away from their existing suppliers later replied that they made the change primarily because of a lack of attention from the company.

Once you have invested the time and made the efforts necessary to build a high-quality, trust-based relationship with your customer, you must maintain that relationship for the life of your business. You must never take it for granted.

Action Exercises
First, focus on building a high quality relationship with each customer by treating your customer so well that he comes back, buys again and refers you to his friends.

Second, pay attention to your existing customers. Tell them you appreciate them. Look for ways to thank them and encourage them to come back and do business with you again.

How to Avoid Those Awkward Conversational Pauses

By AMY LEVIN-EPSTEIN / MONEYWATCH

Are you afraid of awkward pauses in the workplace? Depending on your personality, you may be worried about making others feel at ease, or you yourself may just be uncomfortable with silence. Have no fear — sometimes a little lag in a conversation can be crucial. Here’s how to harness the power of the pause.

Pause only when it’s useful. Routinely pausing just for the sake of it shouldn’t be your goal. “Pausing when speaking is imperative to being heard only when the listener needs a pause,” says Stuart Diamond, author of Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life. “As any good reporter or negotiator knows, one has to communicate based on how one’s audience best hears the communication. One can imagine some listeners who would find pauses annoying.” On the other hand, he notes that in some cultures, a small pause can signal a respectful reflection. The key is knowing who you’re dealing with. “There is no one size fits all in dealing with others.”

Consider alternatives to silence. If you’re confident enough to be absolutely silent if you need a moment to think or want to give your conversational partner time to consider what you’ve said, go ahead. But true silence can be particularly agonizing for some people or in some situations, such as salary negotiation. In the case of the latter, Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute, says to instead use a four-letter word (no, not that one). For instance, say you’re at the point in the discussion when your HR manager or boss gives you a salary number. “When you hear the employer’s figure, or range, repeat the figure or top of the range, and say ‘Hmmm,'” Chapman advises. This is a form of negotiating tennis. “It puts the burden of making the offer attractive back on the employer’s shoulders,” he says.

Use it every time you speak to a group. If you’d rather get a root canal than exercise your public speaking skills, the power of the pause can help you get a handle on your fear. In a recent blog post for the Harvard Business review, corporate coach Jerry Weiss wrote that pausing between sentences not only gives your audience a chance to reflect on what you’ve just said, it can prevent you from rushing because of nerves and adrenaline. His tip? Make sure to lower your voice at the end of each phrase, which will help you pause naturally.

Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

Data Can’t Beat a Salesperson’s Best Tool

By Rick Reynolds, Harvard Business Review

For people selling in a B2B context, Big Data can be extremely useful — but amid all the celebration over this powerful new way of doing business, it’s important to keep in mind its limits. There is an important piece of information missing from most B2B Big Data collections: First-hand qualitative data about what your prospects and existing customers really think about your company. In other words, beyond the data, what do your customers say when you are not around?

As sales becomes more technologically advanced, the trend is for B2B companies to rely more on Big Data and less on information gathered from one-on-one personal interactions. The Big Data that enterprise companies are collecting is often limited to numbers of sales transactions, competitive data, sales activity data, and overall market trends. All of these facts and figures are relevant and useful for improving sales, but the data alone doesn’t provide in-depth insight into what is really happening in the minds of your prospects and clients. Much like in the intelligence world, satellites can only provide so much insight. Some of the most critical data can only be obtained through one-on-one, face-to-face interactions.

On one extreme, many companies don’t have Big Data sets. They rely on sales teams to collect and manage whatever data they are able to obtain through their own research. In fact, according to theCSO Insights 2012 Impact of Data Access on Sales Performance Report, the average sales rep spends 24% of his time searching for relevant information to prepare for calls. This, though, takes away a significant portion of his selling time.

On the other extreme, many enterprise companies have so much Big Data that it is difficult to interpret and manage, let alone use effectively to increase bottom line results. The same study by CSO also found that nearly 90% of sales leaders report missing opportunities due to information overload. Sifting through sales Big Data can be like trying to pick out a molecule in a raging river.

Quantitative Big Data about prospects and existing clients is critical to sales success, but it does not provide a complete picture. Your company needs both quantitative and qualitative data to fully understand your customers. In other words, you need the facts, figures, and the context.

Also keep in mind that your “big data” may mislead you at times as it relates to individual clients. Not every trend applies to all companies. In fact, your most valuable multi-million dollar client may buck a trend altogether. If you assume the trend applies to this client, you risk losing them as a customer. Let’s take a look at what kind of qualitative data you need to better understand your customers and prospects. You need to know their:

 

    • Strategic direction

 

    • Stated needs

 

    • Hidden needs not mentioned in an RFP

 

    • Decision-making process and parties involved

 

    • Perception of your performance and customer service

 

    • Perception of your competitors

There is only one way to uncover qualitative data about your B2B prospects and existing clients — ask for it. This level of in-depth information can only be obtained by asking probing questions, carefully listening to the responses, and analyzing what you uncover. However, it requires more than developing a brief survey. To get to this level of understanding, in-depth 20- to 60-minute interviews should be completed with executives and managers at your client and prospect companies.

When conducting in-depth interviews, be sure to interview multiple executives at the senior level, as their views truly drive company direction. Ask them a structured series of probing, open-ended questions to get at the truth. You need to scratch below the surface. If you think your prospects or clients won’t provide you with candid feedback, or if you feel you lack the required expertise, bring in an objective third-party to conduct the interviews and analysis.

Collecting qualitative data is only half of the process. The other half is acting upon what you have learned. Once your prospects and clients confide in you, they expect you to act on what you have uncovered. Failure to make improvements and changes based on what you learned will jeopardize the account and set you back.

Uncovering both quantitative and qualitative insights about prospects and existing clients provides a comprehensive picture to help you more effectively meet your customers’ needs and improve your performance. One type of data without the other provides only half the picture. However, when combined, quantitative and qualitative data about your prospects and customers will help you improve sales and better serve your customers.