This is pure gold! DO NOT do this on a sales call. Have a great weekend!
I enjoyed reading Lloyd’s take on sales strategy this morning. Have a great day!
One issue I find perpetually frustrating is how often companies neglect the goal of their sales efforts: Getting a deal. As someone who has been on both sides of the fence—initiating partnerships and being sold to –—I am particularly sensitive when I see people making fundamental mistakes.
Focus on the goal
The first manifestation of this problem is when people focus on arranging meetings (or calls), rather than qualifying potential partners and seeing if there is a reason to meet. There is no value in a meeting just for meeting’s sake.
Trade shows are a great example of people losing track of the goal. Prior to a major trade show, even if I am not attending, I got multiple meeting requests. Very rarely do people try to qualify whether or not it is worth their time meeting. Given that everyone has a limited schedule, they are potentially not only wasting 30…
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That is the question 🙂
Ever see people handing out business cards like they are dealing a deck of cards?
“Come one, come all, everyone gets a card!”
The important question is…
did you get a card from the prospect, or the networking event connection?
When you get a card, you are in control. You control your own destiny.
When all you do is hand out cards, and often forget to get their card, you wait – hoping one day that they reach out to you.
Uh-oh! Your card may end up in the garbage but you still can connect if you have theirs!
I had not read this in a long time and enjoyed a few laughs last night enjoying some old work memories. Hope you like it too!
As I was driving to a sales call yesterday, my thoughts suddenly turned to some of the funniest moments during my career! There has certainly been a lot of hard work along the way, but thankfully many laughs too. Here is a short list of some of the best moments.
#1 “Hey look, it’s Captain High Liner!” – I pulled up to an elite golf course in the Rocky Mountains on a very rainy day. As I approached the pro shop with my yellow rain suit on (including suspenders) one of my co-workers yelled the above mentioned quote in front of many strangers.
#2 I pulled up to the valet parking area in my work van at a 5 star hotel in Calgary. I had just come back from setting up for a trade show, so I looked very casual, messy and tired. I hastily grabbed my suitcase and was going to take it with in to the lobby. Unfortunately I had opened the zipper on my suitcase earlier, and I spilled all of its contents on to the ground!
#3 “She had one of those stay-away-from-me-papers” – A manufacturing plant worker describes a scenario where a woman had a restraining order against him.
#4 “Hey boss, why did you fax me a copy of the weekly sales report and write SWEET month on it?” Well (he laughs), I actually wrote 5-WEEK month on it, but the way you are selling, it is a SWEET month too!”
#5 Manager to sales rep (after hitting a deer on the highway), “Why did you not slow down when you saw that deer on the road?”
Sales Rep to Manager, “I thought it was going to move.”
#6 “If you hit that intercom button one more time, I am going to call the cops” – A customer’s response to the third time I hit the intercom button at their gated house in Australia. This was the one and only time I pushed too hard trying to get in somebody’s door to discuss the encyclopedia program I was selling.
#7 Back in the day, a co-worker was out a little late one night during a trade show on the road and had a few too many refreshments. When his “wake up call” came, he picked up the phone, quickly hung up and struggled to the shower. One problem.. it was the middle of the night, and the phone call was their mother-in-law saying his wife had gone in to labour late that night and had the baby.
#8 I had a “communication breakdown” with two experienced reps that I called “My Two Dads” about picking them up for a trade show. I called their hotel room a couple of times – no answer. They were not down in the lobby either. So I left them at the hotel. I can still vividly recall one of them glaring at me intensely as the President of the Company commented on their tardiness!
Wow! I could probably have Part 2 & 3 of this later. That’s all for today. Have a great weekend everyone!
Selling has always been in my blood, and I became a sales rep for the first time in 1999. Since then, I have learned a “couple” lessons along the way performing several different roles. Sales reps sell products and/or services, and can make a good living. In addition to the standard responsibilities, true sales professionals achieve more success by taking their game to another level and have long, prosperous careers. Which one do you want to be?
Having a complete understanding of sales cycles, and mastering product knowledge is imperative for success. Most companies only focus on product training, because that is what everyone does. While others also give insight on sales processes from first greeting/meeting all the way through closing the sale.
That is where things get scary! Many reps get a false sense of security that this is all they need to know to become successful. In reality, this knowledge only equips them to be “run-of-the-mill” sales reps. The world is full of “status quo lovers”. The following information will give you the potential to become a true sales professional and exceed goals for years to come.
#1 Consult, Don’t Regurgitate
Your job is to sell products and/or services, but people don’t like being sold to. How weird is that? The faster you learn that listening during a customer/prospect interaction is more important than speaking, you will be well ahead of the curve. When you become a consultant providing solutions to their current situation, success will follow shortly. Anyone can regurgitate information and spew it out. Just ask the student who memorized textbooks and got straight A’s, but could not cut it in their chosen profession.
#2 Share, Celebrate and Support
The “relationships” aspect of a sales team is critical to its overall success. You need to give unconditionally, and not be afraid to share ideas and concepts with each other. I always love to share templates for presentations, bulletins that I distribute to customers or various ideas that help improve my territory. If you can make your co-workers lives’ easier, why wouldn’t you? The good karma will come back some day. Celebrate each other’s victories, and don’t you dare get jealous if your colleagues get better results! Put together recovery plans to improve ASAP.
Things don’t always turn out the way that we want them too, so be there to support each other when failure occurs. Keep communication lines open to move past bumps in the road. And last but not least, treat inside sales and support groups with the utmost respect! They are pivotal to the team’s overall success, and are not personal assistants.
#3 Manage Time, Plan and Prioritize
I underestimated the power of being exceptional in this area for a long time, and it affected my results earlier in my career. Planning a schedule as far ahead as a month or more makes things flow better. Putting emphasis on getting out of the office regularly at scheduled times keeps you on track. Paperwork and other less urgent items can be handled before or after prime selling hours. I once worked for a manager who stacked the sales rep’s desks in the warehouse to emphasize that he did not want them in the office for very long in the morning! An extreme action, but he made his point loud and clear.
I always make the disclaimer that priorities over-ride schedules with the following example. If you have a lunch booked with a prospect where the potential is unknown, and your largest customer has a crisis shortly before the appointment, what would you do? You have to understand who your biggest customers are, and the level of service that they need. By the way, do you spend 80% of your time with the 20% of your customers who buy the most? If not, it is time to adjust your schedule and give them the attention they deserve.
#4 Fly Under The Radar, Don’t Be “On It”
Early in my career I had a Sales Manager tell me that one of the best indicators if a rep was doing a good job, is if they rarely heard from the rep’s customers. Be very responsive to your customer’s needs, and take care of them in a timely fashion. If you need help, get it. Never blame others in your organization if they do not respond to you and a customer is left waiting. It is your responsibility to get things taken care of, no excuses!
Keep up to date on everything that your manager requests. It may be weekly call reports, inputting of sales calls and/or opportunities in to a CRM (customer relationship management) program, or general administrative items. Successful sales people always do what is asked of them, even if they don’t like to.
#5 The Path of “Most Resistance” Pays Dividends
Anyone can take the path of least resistance. It is easy to only deal with customers who have great relationships with you and your company, and only sign up prospects that there was little effort involved. But what about handling those difficult customers in your territory, or bringing on prospects where things were more challenging? From those clients, huge growth can occur. In one role I had, the previous sales rep stopped calling on a long-standing account because he was not getting along with the staff. Sales plummeted. From the time I came on board, it only took two years for the account to become the largest in my territory.
Over time, you will acquire “street-smarts” and know when to walk away from business, but more importantly when to move forward when the potential is right before you. Don’t hide behind email or text messaging when problems arise. Face-to-Face is still the best way to communicate, and sometimes you “have to take a punch” to make things right.
#6 Customers And Prospects Are Human Beings Too
It is easy to see through reps whose only agenda is to close sales as quickly as possible, with minimal effort. But the secret is to really get to know customers on a personal level, and make them feel important. It is common knowledge that people like to deal with those they like, know and trust, so take steps to solidify relationships as soon as possible. Get to know special details about customer’s families, their hobbies or even what they take in their coffee. Take notes, keep files and refer back to them before each meeting. I guarantee that they will be impressed with what you remembered, and there is a very good chance that your competitors did not take those lengths to learn about them.
Becoming a true sales professional takes time, and long-term commitment to grow and learn every day. Sales reps tend to be negatively stereotyped, but those that stand out from the crowd, truly care about their customers and can be counted on at a moment’s notice will always be in demand.
Are you in this for just a job, or a long, prosperous career? You make the choice.
A good reminder for us all 🙂
The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention:
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” – Vince Lombardi
Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in sales and other professional roles shouldn’t be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.
My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality, but it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the crowd were always the ones that remained memorable to me.
This also meant that my dad and I could never quickly go to a mall because he was always running into people. Conversations would start, and time would pass by. My mom would always comment upon our return, “Where were you? I just sent you for a couple of things!”
There are so many opportunities to engage people outside of work:
- In line at a store
- At a social events with friends
- Business or community events
- Sporting events
- On a walk or a run
- Groups, associations or teams that you and/or your children are part of
I was thinking about this one day after a run, and I reflected on how many people I acknowledge in that 45 minute period. It was about twelve!
- Some greetings were a simple hello or good morning as I passed by
- With others I would make a quick comment on the weather, or about the degree of difficulty of a hill that I (or they) had just ran up
- Some were a quick stop so our dogs could greet each other
- It was common that I ask for information about their dog, and how the person’s day was going
- I even complimented one guy who was actually attempting to train his new puppy
When I engage people in this setting, most people are pleasant back. It is common for people to jog with an iPod or Mp3 player, but I will still turn mine down to say something, or at least wave. I have done this for so long it is second nature now.
If I never practiced this skill, and instead just went through the day keeping to myself, it would be unreasonable to expect that I’d be very good at it in a short time period. Skills would develop eventually, but carrying that philosophy over to your personal life just means that you have more opportunity to practice. Then before you know it, the skill improves.
This was not always easy for me; because I was quite shy growing up due to my stutter. Speaking up and meeting people was very difficult well in to my teenage years. But with practice and patience, I consider myself very engaging now, and will always take time to speak with others.
- Do you only engage new people in work situations?
- Where can you begin to converse with people starting right away in your personal life?
The most practical business skill that has come out of this for me is keeping conversations going when there is a lot of dead air. I think most of us have experienced conversations that were very one-sided, and it was a struggle to keep it going, and interesting for the other person.
Good luck, and remember to always be in “engagement mode”!
Under two minutes for a great laugh today! When compensation plans change, sometimes sales rep feels like they are being treated unfairly.
Check out this humorous take!
Have a fantastic weekend!
Enjoy these very valuable lessons on how NOT to conduct a sales call!
I thought this was fantastic.
Have a great weekend!