Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I just came across this story. Read it. Think about your dreams. Go get'em.

Persistence - The Necessary Quality

"Aww, forget it. I need to talk to someone new."

I've said this to my self before. In retrospect I'm forced to ask myself, how close was I to Earning the Sale? Quite possibly, I was one visit away. Impossible to tell once you've walked away, though.

Last night I made the biggest single sale of my career thus far, earning commissions north of $25,000, assuming that the deal goes through. That's a real feather in my cap. That's half of my last year's income.... How did I do that? Persistence. I stuck with the prospect even when it looked like I'd lost him.

My last visit with this fellow entailed a very difficult time wherein I was forced to explain some previous recommendations and my integrity was called into question - I was on the hot seat! Because I had strong belief in my recommendations in the first place, I was able to convey that belief and stand tall. However, it was a difficult and challenging conversation, and it would have been very easy to simply walk away afterwards, saying: "Aww, forget it."

But I didn't. Which is remarkable, by the way. This prospect is difficult to meet with, as he works very long hours, and our meetings tend to start late at night and last until midnight or so, taking me away from my family. We tend to get off track, as he tends to be a passionate conversationalist, taking charge of the conversation and leading it away from the sale and into other less relevant topics. It's easy to get frustrated as a salesperson during times like this, because one way or another we've got to earn some money. After a number of unproductive meetings that took up more late night time than most would want to give up, it would have been easy to say: "Aww, forget it."

But I didn't.

I didn't because I was already deep into the sales process on another product with this prospect. I didn't because I knew that I was connecting a prospective purchaser with the appropriate product. I didn't because I knew that you need to stick with it until you hear NO.

In order to Earn the Sale, your prospect must like and trust you. This will not happen unless you can be a patient relationship builder. You do this by taking an interest in the prospect, listening to their stories, telling them your own, being there to answer tough questions, and continuing to come back. You do this by being honest with them about the recommendations that you make, and by making appropriate recommendations in the first place.

But ultimately, you do this by being patient and persistent, not pushing the sale, having belief in your products and recommendations, and faith that by doing the right thing, you'll be justly rewarded.

Yesterday was evidence of that.

If you have a story to share about a time that you were persistent and it paid off, I'd love to hear it.

Happy Selling!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Personal Branding - How To Put Others To Work For You

I spent most of this weekend at an industry association golf tournament for construction business owners and people that sell to the industry. It was an excellent time, and I was fortunate to have been invited by my cousin, who works in that industry. I was fortunate, however, because of my cousin's thoughtfulness, which was absolutely no accident. Herein lies the point.

Because I have taken the time to inform my cousin of not only what I do, but how I generate business, as well as the fact that I really enjoy golfing, when he was faced with the circumstance of needing to fill an open position in the tournament, he thought of me. He knew that I would appreciate the opportunity to go to this event and spend some time meeting new people, networking, and prospecting. He knew this because I had planted the idea in his mind. He simply accessed it when the opportunity arose. This is what personal branding is all about.

When you have the opportunity to tell others what you do, and for whom you do it, you're creating awareness among your community of influence. Then, once awareness has been created by initially telling others, keep in contact with them on a regular basis. Be sure to take an interest in what they're doing, but be sure also to let them know what you've been up to, with regard to your business and your market. You need to remind people, because it is not nearly as important to them as it is to you.

So, take a little time to specifically identify your target market, or those with whom you'd most like to do business. Then, be sure to tell others about it, planting seeds for referrals or opportunities to network at events that they invite you to.

This event was a huge success for me. I gathered a lot of business cards, told many people about what it is that I do, gave out a lot of business cards, and had an enjoyable time golfing with people that I'd otherwise have never known. All because I told my cousin what I do, how I do it, and what kind of people I'd like to meet.

Go on now, and share the good news.

Happy Selling.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Best Referral Tip Ever: Assume The Referral

Now, we've all heard of the closing technique "assuming the sale". Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Have you ever considered transferring the concept to your bag of referral generating tricks?

It's really quite simple. While in conversation with your prospect or client, as you're probing, questioning, and deepening the relationship, the names of people will invariably come up. When they do, note them. Then, later in the conversation, consider assuming them as a referral by saying, "You know, you had mentioned that you regularly eat brunch with John Smith. I'd really like to join you both some time, as it sounds like John and I might get along. I'd even be happy to buy brunch. When is the next time you're planning to go?"

This works, I've done it. Now, the example above was simply an example, but you get the point. A couple of qualifying questions might be useful in terms of being efficient with your own time, as well as demonstrating some interest in the 'referral'. Just be careful not focus too keenly on the third party - you don't want your prospect feeling as though you're not focusing on them. So, keep it brief and to the point.

Assuming the referral works. Practice digging for names in your next meeting.

Happy selling!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Selling Secret - Drop the Pitch.

Are you selling something, or are you helping your prospect buy? This is a key question, because it frames the type of interaction you're preparing to have with your prospect. Think about this for a minute: why do consumers "hate" salespeople?

Because they don't want to be sold.

So, what's the big clue that you're trying to sell them something?

The Pitch.

The problem begins with your routines, and lives in your complacency, your lack of differentiation, your lack of creativity, and finishes with you missing opportunities without even realizing it. Why? You feel like you were smooth, you feel like you were polished, but you came off like a salesperson.

The prospect smelled your pitch, branded you a "nasty salesperson", got spooked, and tuned you out. They didn't listen to your features and benefits, they didn't give you honest answers.

How about a different approach? Consider getting to know the prospect. Consider finding out where they hurt. Consider learning about what's important to them. Consider telling them a compelling and relevant story. Yes, you should be seeking out and remembering relevant, compelling stories. Consider relating to your prospect.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with going into a sales meeting without a script. In fact, if you have a script, toss it. Using scripts makes you clumsy, it detracts from your ability to listen and steals your focus. Don't focus on what YOU want, focus on what THEY want. Then, and only then, can you begin to earn their trust. And trust, my friends, will close you more sales than any other tool in your bag. Of course, you'd better be worthy of that trust. If you're not, you're in the wrong business, friend.

So, drop the pitch, and get to know your prospect.

Happy Selling!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shut up and Listen!

I remember the day I realized that I'd lost a deal that represented about $6000 in commissions. I was torn up, devastated, confused. Of course, it wasn't my fault. Clearly, the prospect was at fault because they didn't understand my pitch. They didn't realize my value proposition.

Upon further reflection, however, my understanding of the event evolved. I began to blame myself. However, I blamed myself for using too much jargon, for over-explaining, for confusing the prospect with language and overloading them with information. This too was wrong thinking.

The truth is, I didn't spend enough time listening to what was important to the prospect. In my eagerness to show how smart and useful I was, I ended up selling solutions that the prospect hadn't asked for. This is where I really took a wrong turn.

See, the prospect meets with you because they want to buy. They want to give you a chance. BUT - the onus is on YOU to spend some time finding out about the prospect. Who are they? What is important to them? What do they expect of you? Spend some time trying to gain an understanding of the problem that they're trying to solve. Then, and only then, can you truly begin to speak about things they want to hear about.

Listen, the fact of the matter is that they really want to buy. All you have to do is help them. But how can you help them if you don't really know what it is they're after? How can you fix a problem when you don't have a solid understanding of what that problem is, and how it affects the prospect?

Ask questions, and then shut up. Listen to the prospect. Encourage them to talk. Try to understand why they're there with you in the first place. If all else fails, and you're unable to get to the crux of the issue, don't sweat it. Spend some time relationship building, get to know them, and try again another day. Remember, relationship is everything. And they don't really care how much you know. They only want to know how much you care. Once they trust you, everything will work out just fine.

So relax. Think up some great questions, and then sit back, listen, and get to know your prospect a little better.