We All Know – You Can’t Close Business In the Summer

I hear it every year from reps I train and reps my company manages…”You can’t close business in the summer because everyone is on vacation.”

If you have “sensitive eyes” don’t read the next line:

BULLSHIT!

It’s a load of baloney that you can’t sell during the summer months because everyone is on vacation.

According to a 2014 study, the average American worker is entitled to 16 days of paid leave. But the length of the average vacation lasts just over four days! Only 25 percent of workers say they take all the time off that’s due them (Glassdoor Employee Satisfaction Survey). In fact, 15 percent of Americans report taking NO time off.

Let’s say that ALL Americans took all 16 days off and we all took them off at the same time, during the summer…that would mean American business would shut down for slightly over three weeks in July or August, leaving another 5 weeks of summer where we were all at work, doing business. Of course, we DON’T all take vacation at the same time and, according to the study quoted above, 15% of us take NO time off at all.

The fact is, “You can’t sell in the summer because everyone is on vacation,” is a mindset and an excuse. In your head, you believe everyone is on vacation, and when you call and they don’t answer it PROVES it to you that you’re right. This offers you an excuse, for yourself and your manager, when you don’t close anything.

Is it harder to reach people on Friday afternoons after 3:00 in the summer? Yup. But not every company has “summer hours” and even if they did, that still leaves Monday through Thursday all day and Friday you can do business until early afternoon.

STOP THE HEAD TRASH!

Salespeople either have excuses, or closed business. 

Which will you CHOOSE?

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How Long Should I follow Up For? Be Politely Persistent

I get this question a lot. “When is it time to give up on a deal?” “How long should I follow up for?” “How much follow-up is too much?”

My experience is that reps either give up way too easily, or they go completely in the other direction and never give up…they’ll follow up forever, hoping the prospect comes to their senses and decides to buy. I believe in what I call “polite persistence” or following up until it’s time to stop.

One of the challenges I see, is that reps don’t know when a prospect is saying, “No,” because the prospect often uses other words or ways to let us know they’ve chosen to not do business with us at this time. Not returning phone calls? Not returning emails? These probably mean the prospect has decided not to become your customer, at least for now, but it can also mean the prospect is busy and simply doesn’t believe they have the time to return your call or email. (It’s a BS excuse…everyone has the time to return a call or email, but prospects think they don’t have the time) Polite persistence can pay off.

Polite persistence is exactly what it sounds like…politely following up with a prospect to get a Yes or No answer. They keys are:

1) Be polite, and add value

2) Be persistent, and invest the right amount of time on your follow-up

Leaving voice mails or sending emails that sound like this are a waste: “Hi Sue, it’s Jeff Goldberg from E Center Training. I’m just calling to follow up on that proposal. Give me a call and let me know if you’re still interested.”

Better to add some value to your prospect on the call or email when you’re “checking in.” The value can be personal or professional. For example, I recently met a prospect who told me he was a “star stalker.” He loves running into people from movies and TV. A follow up with him could be:

“Hey Dave, I was meeting with a prospect in SoHo this morning and noticed Denzel Washington walking down the street. Walked over and thanked him for all the great entertainment over the years. Made me think of you! Had any good star sightings recently?

By the way, I’ve given a lot of thought to the proposal we discussed a few weeks ago and came up with a different idea. Give me a call so we can discuss.”

Not only does this message show the prospect that I paid attention when we met (and he told me about his enjoyment of meeting stars) but also that he’s on my mind. Additionally, I’ve let him know I’m still thinking about his situation and have a new idea, hopefully getting him curious about the new idea and re-engaging with me.

A perfect example of polite persistence is a prospect of mine. I was referred to them about 8 months ago. We had a great initial meeting. Lots of rapport, lots of great information being passed back and forth about what they need and what I do, which seemed like a good match. I followed up via phone and email with the contact several times over the next two weeks. No response. I waited a week then tried again. No response. Waited two more weeks. No response. Each successive outreach on my part had more time between it and the last one as time moved on. Why would I call someone several times a week after not getting a response for months. It doesn’t make sense. The further past the last meeting or phone call you go, the longer the time between attempted follow-up.

The prospect reached out to me about two weeks ago to let me know they appreciated my persistence, but are strongly leaning in another vendor’s direction. The prospect said they don’t want to waste my time, but because of my persistence they’d be willing to speak with me again if I wanted to, as long as I understood that the deal was most likely going to go to the other vendor. I told them I understood and approximately 8 months after initial contact we had a phone call. I was able to find out why they were “strongly leaning” toward the other vendor and was able to clear up some misunderstandings the prospect had. They asked if I was available to be in Colorado on a specific date, which I was. We agreed I’d send a revised proposal, but the prospect instructed me to send “The light version, as we’re almost definitely going with the other vendor and I don’t want you to waste your time.” I appreciated their honesty and sent a proposal, along with a note letting them know I appreciated their straightforwardness and even though they’ve pretty much made their decision, I’d welcome the chance to work with them at any time.

Yesterday the prospect reached out to ask if I could meet for lunch, which we did. The deal isn’t mine, yet, and it could still go the other way, but if I hadn’t followed up, politely and persistently, there would have been little-to-no shot.

Will this deal close? If it does, it’s because of my polite persistence.

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You Need to Be In Action! YCDBSOYA

I often get feedback via email after our newsletters go out, and I appreciate it every time. As a trainer, it’s my job to help salespeople and sales managers learn to do their jobs more effectively so they can feed their families. I’m blessed, in that I often gets to learn from the people I’m paid to teach and from the people I’ve come to know over my years in sales and sales management.

After my last newsletter, I heard from a longtime friend, John Hill – The Trade Show Coach, and it was such an important message that I’m passing it along to you. John wrote to me and said,

“Great article Jeff…Made me think of the days I was “knocking on doors” and following up with my customers.

My grandson is in sales, and I met him the other day for lunch and gave him a tie pin that was given to me by a Sales Manager many years ago. On the pin are the letters YCDBSOYA. This means “You can’t do business sitting on your Assets” (of course some people change the last word). He loved it and I said, THAT’S what sales is all about. You’ve got to work at it!

John is right! Sales is not a spectator sport. After a conversation yesterday, with my incredible partner, I realized that to a certain extent I’VE been sitting on the sidelines. It’s not that I’m (or you are) bad or wrong for doing so, it’s simply that it’s unlikely to produce the results we all want, and need, from our chosen career. Want better results? GET OFF YOUR ASSETS AND DO SOMETHING.

My friend and mentor, Steve Bookbinder (one of the three smartest humans I personally know, the funniest human I personally know and the greatest trainer I’ve ever seen) told me early on in our friendship about something he had been hoping to find when he first started out in advertising sales.

As a newbie, he looked to the “top dog” in the office for tips on how to be successful. This sales superstar would come into the office each day, hang his hat on a coat rack (Yes, this happened a LONG time ago, when men wore hats!), put his feet up on his desk, open the paper and being to read it while sipping coffee. After a while his phone would ring, and he’d write up an order for some advertising a customer wanted. He’d then resume his reading until the phone rang again, which it did…over and over. Steve decided that what he wanted to find was, “One of those ringing phones.”

What Steve wasn’t seeing was the years of work the top rep had invested, in prospecting and developing relationships, which was what got him to the point where his phone rang enough to bring him enough business to achieve his sales goals.

I want one of those phones too…I simply haven’t found it yet. Does my phone ring? You bet it does. I have lots of happy current and previous clients. They use my services and they recommend me to others, and I appreciate their trust and each and every piece of business they bring me. But, it’s not enough to support my family. For most of us, we must be consistently proactive in order to develop more business. 

PICK UP THE PHONE. SEND EMAILS. GIVE SPEECHES. USE SOCIAL MEDIA. NETWORK. SHARE GREAT CONTENT.

I often advise attendees at cold calling workshops, when we discuss objections and rebuttals, that, “These rebuttals I’m teaching you don’t work…………………UNLESS YOU USE THEM!” The same applies to prospecting. It doesn’t work if you don’t do it.

GET OFF YOUR ASSETS and take massive action today. Your sales future depends on it. (Mine too)

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Referrals – Perhaps It’s Time to Grow a Pair!

A reader writes – “Would you have any past articles about how to ask for referrals? It’s one of those awkward things that no one seems to like to do but has so much potential to help grow a book of business. If not, maybe you could do a future article on it?”

Yes, Anthony Catalano! I have some strong opinions on referrals.

Referrals are your very best source of business and they sure beat picking up the phone and cold calling.

Who should you ask for referrals? Everyone. The obvious choice is happy customers but I suggest there are more sources. How about prospects who don’t buy? If you’ve done your job properly (established rapport, listened more than you spoke, treated them with respect, truly added value during the sales process even though they didn’t end up buying for now) they may very well have referrals for you if you ask. How about almost anyone, like people you’re sitting next to on an airplane (a favorite of mine) or people sitting at nearby tables at a diner (I listen in on conversations and look for an opening to jump in). How about finding people who sell to the same client base as you, but are in non-competitive industries? For example, headhunters who recruit salespeople are a natural referral source for me and I am for them. Form relationships that will offer mutual benefit and ask. At the very least you should be asking your clients for referrals regularly.

How should you ask? Simple. “Anthony, as you may know, I grow my business with direct referrals from happy clients just like you. (Replace the words “happy clients” with whatever is appropriate) Who do you know that I should be speaking with?” Notice I didn’t say, “Do you have anyone you can refer me to?” That’s a yes or no question, and the answer is often, “Not right now, but if I think of anyone I’ll let you know.” You want referrals NOW! Asking it as I’m recommending will, hopefully, get your client (or whoever you’re asking) thinking about who they know that they can refer you to.

Once someone has a referral from you, the next words out of your mouth should be, “Thanks very much? Would you mind doing me a quick favor right now? (Wait for them to say yes) Would you please give them a quick call and let them know you think I may have something valuable for them and that you’ve given me their contact information, and you’d appreciate it if they’d accept my call when I reach out?” What’s the worst they’ll say? No, and if they do you’ve still got the referral. If they won’t make the phone call, ask if they’ll send an email. Almost everyone will agree to that because it’s easier than making a call on your behalf. If they agree to an email, ask, “Would it help if I wrote the email for you? I can send it to you then you can cut and paste it into a new email and send it to Bob (or whatever the referral’s name is). Would that help?” OF COURSE it will help, that way they don’t have to invest time writing it but, more importantly, now you get to craft the introduction exactly the way you want it!

The reason most salespeople don’t get enough referrals is they simply don’t ask. Your clients have referrals for you, in fact lots of people have referrals for you, but they’re busy with their own lives and their own business and even if they like you very much, they might never offer. By being proactive you dramatically increase the odds of getting referrals. Early on in my sales training career I was sitting across from an SVP of Sales, discussing how the training program was going about three months after starting it. I asked for referrals and he said, “As a matter of fact I have two great ones for you and I was waiting for you to ask!” Both turned into business, one of them into a VERY substantial deal.

If you’re in sales and aren’t getting enough referrals, GROW A PAIR and start asking. A referral done as I’ve suggested above, where the referrer actually makes the introduction for you (whether by phone or email) takes you halfway to a closed sale. You’re being referred to someone that the referrer trusts!

Make your life easier and close more business…ASK FOR REFERRALS!

While we’re on the subject, who do YOU know that I should be speaking with???

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Give Up or Pedal Harder?

Here on Long Island, we caught a lucky break early this week when Hurricane Hermine downgraded quickly for most of us, and did nothing more than create some spectacular waves for surfers and brought some strong winds. On Monday, after dropping my kids at their mom’s house after a terrific holiday weekend, I decided to get some exercise. I jumped on my bicycle and headed for the boardwalk. I like to ride fast, and on the first part of my ride I was flying, my legs pumping hard and the wind strongly at my back. It felt great as I passed cyclist after cyclist, with occasional glances towards the ocean to see the perfect waves breaking and the surfers having a blast! I had built up a good sweat by the time I got to the end of the boardwalk and turned around to head back, ready for the second half of my ride. As I made the turnaround, however, the wind which was previously at my back struck me full force in the face, and it became a huge struggle to ride. In fact, some of the people who were also riding in that direction had hopped off their bikes and were walking. After about a minute of struggling, the little voice in my head said, “The wind is just too strong…time to walk it,” but the little voice on the “other side” of my brain said, “Nope…it’s time to switch gears and pedal harder…you can do it!” I shifted gears and fought it out, working hard all the way home. Exhausted, as I put my bike back in the garage, it occurred to me that this was a metaphor for those of us who sell or manage salespeople.

 

It’s happened to almost all of us in sales at some point…things are going along well. We’re setting appointments, meeting with prospects, having great conversations and closing business. We’re doing the things we know we need to do, consistently and with skill. Prospects are turning into customers and money is flowing our way. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the “wind” smacks us in the face and everything grinds to a halt. No one answers our calls, appointments get postponed or canceled, deals that were a “lock” fall apart. Confidence wanes and income plummets.

 

In my professional experience, this is the time that many give up. Suddenly they’re looking on Monster.com for their next sales job (Because, obviously, the reason for their sudden lack of success is the job, not them), and they’re blaming everything and everyone (“My manager sucks” “My company sucks” “Where are the ‘good’ leads?” “The economy sucks” “Our prices are too high” “We’re a commodity” “The competition is blowing us away”) except themselves.

 

Are there times when the smart move is to get off your bike and walk it? I suppose so, but not usually. Typically, it’s time to switch gears and pedal harder. When things start going wrong, take a look at yourself:

 

*Have I been prospecting consistently, and using a blended approach, or have I been waiting for the phone to ring?

 

*Have I been following up with prospects and customers to make them feel special or have I been waiting for them to “come to their senses” and call me to let me know they’re ready to buy?

 

*Have I been adding value and creating/nurturing relationships or have I been “Showing up and throwing up,” dumping the features of what I have to offer all over my prospects?

 

If I listened to salespeople and believed what many of them told me, I’d think there are only about 4 days during the year that you can close business. You can’t close business during the summer, because everyone is on vacation. After Labor Day everyone is focused on kids going back to school, not business. Then they’re looking forward to the holidays. Then prospects are saying, “Get in touch after the first of the year.” The it’s right after the holidays and no one is in business mode yet. Then it’s tax time. It seems there’s almost NEVER a good time to close business IF you listen and believe your own excuses.

 

Our excuses, to ourselves and others, are a crock of crap.

 

Things aren’t working? Take a look inside. I’m not saying that conditions don’t sometimes make things difficult, but over the past 40+ years I’ve observed that the most successful sales reps are consistent, and when they see things are starting to not work as well as they used to, they are flexible enough to switch gears and pedal harder.

 

SALESPEOPLE EITHER HAVE EXCUSES OR CLOSED BUSINESS AND FAT PAYCHECKS.

 

Which do you choose?

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7 Steps to a Terrific 2017!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could send a tweet, post something on LinkedIn, send an email or make a phone call today and close a sale tomorrow? I think it would, but for most businesses that’s simply not the way it works. As an example, for me it typically takes between 4 and 6 months after I first contact someone before I get a check. It’s not a bad thing, it’s simply the way it is, and it’s important for me to know that so I can get paid consistently. You too.

In my world, from the time I first meet with a prospect until the time they become a client the average time is 8 weeks (Sometimes more, sometimes less, but 8 weeks is average). Clients don’t give me checks when we agree to do business. More “stuff” has to happen first. I’m often booked up between 12 and 16 weeks in advance so we have to schedule the training, taking into account my schedule and the sales rep’s schedules. I have to design the program, write the workbook, arrange travel (not always) and more. My client’s pay me before I do the workshop, but that still can be 4 to 6 months after first contact. That means if I don’t prospect today, I can’t get a check 4 to 6 months from today. And if I don’t prospect tomorrow, I can’t get a check 4 to 6 months from tomorrow. And so on, and so on. If you’re thinking like I’m thinking, this means that anyone I meet now, it’s likely I won’t see a check from them until December, January or February. The prospecting I did months ago is bringing results now and the prospecting I’m doing now is going to produce results in Q4 of this year or Q1 of 2017.

Want to make it a great 2017? PROSPECT NOW! And prospect consistently. As I write this, I’m feeling like I’m offering you the same message I’ve offered you before. I hope that’s okay with you, because it’s okay with me! And it’s okay with me because it’s crucial to your success.

In anything other than a highly transactional sale, for the most part your year has ended and you’re working on setting up 2017. That doesn’t mean you won’t close more business this year, you will if you laid the groundwork for it months ago, but it means if you want 2017 to be HUGE for you, you’ve got to get busy NOW.

Do you know your average sales cycle and how long it takes you to get paid? (You should) Do you know how much prospecting you have to do in order to see enough people to close enough business to achieve, and exceed, your goals? (You should)

Want 2017 to be better than 2016?

1) Set your financial goal for 2017 now.

2) Based on your metrics, figure out exactly how much prospecting you need to do to ensure you meet with enough prospects.

3) Develop a written plan for doing that amount of prospecting. (Don’t leave it to chance…work on it)

4) Whatever the plan is, put any needed activities on your calendar. (If it’s on your calendar it’s more likely to get done)

5) COMMIT to your plan and share your commitment with someone who will kick your ass if you don’t follow through.

6) Arrange a weekly accountability meeting with someone who will “hold your feet to the fire” and give you the kick in the ass you’ll need when you run out of steam. (We ALL do on occasion)

(FYI – I’m currently accepting 3 new private clients who I’ll be coaching and holding accountable on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – email me at Jeff@YESecenter.com if you want details)

7) Stay positive and do what you know you need to do.

It’s not rocket science. If it was, I couldn’t do it. You CAN do it…it’s takes more than luck, though. With some thought and some effort, you can create a fantastically successful 2017.

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Discounts Can Be Profitable!

I was recently quoted in an article on discounting. Here it is for a quick read!

Small Business: Discounts can be profitable

July 23, 2015 by JAMIE HERZLICH / jherzlich@aol.com

Offering a discount can be an easy way to make a sale. But often, businesses give away discounts too readily, without considering how much of a toll it takes on their bottom line. Knowing when to offer a discount and using it strategically to derive mutual benefit can help boost profit margins, say experts.

“Don’t discount just to discount unless you’re getting something out of it,” advises Jeff Goldberg, partner and lead sales trainer for The Entrepreneur Center in Melville, whose corporate division offers sales training and outsourced sales management. Just because a customer asks for a better price doesn’t mean you have to automatically drop your price, he notes. “Quite often it’s just a question — can you do better or no?” says Goldberg.

Don’t discount too quickly

Often, businesses remember the few people who complained about price and it clouds their judgment, explains Rafi Mohammed, author of “The 1% Windfall” (HarperBusiness; $27.99) and founder of Culture of Profit, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pricing strategy consulting firm. “They’re quick to discount because they just had a bad experience in the past,” he notes. But the real problem is that “salespeople can’t articulate the value of their product,” he says. They need to help customers understand why they should buy the company’s product or service relative to the competition. “If you’re better, you can charge a premium; if you’re not as good, you can charge a discount,” explains Mohammed. To be sure, offering a lower price can activate dormant customers, he notes, adding that every company should offer a “backdoor discount” with some type of hurdle (such as, the discount is only good on certain days or times), he notes. This is a way to identify customers that are price-sensitive, says Mohammed.

But there should always be a reason or purpose for discounting, says Ian Altman, a Rockville, Maryland-based speaker and adviser on sales and business strategies and co-author of “Same Side Selling” (IdeaPress Publishing; $23.95). For instance, perhaps you have inventory that’s going to be out of season. And even then you might be a bit more creative, perhaps bundling it with another item, suggests Altman. So for example, if you buy a blazer, you get a $75 blouse for $25. This way you’re not disenfranchising existing customers who bought that blouse two weeks ago at full price, he notes. In general, though, Altman believes nearly every business can differentiate itself on something other than price. It might be better customer service or ongoing support, he says. “The problem with competing on price is it’s a race to the bottom,” says Altman.

It can also impact how customers perceive you, so consider price positioning carefully, says Rich Isaac, president of Sandler Training of Hauppauge, a sales training and consulting firm. “If you’re Walmart, low-price positioning is who you are, so discounting is part of your strategy,” he notes. “But if you’re intentionally positioning yourself as a higher-value provider, then discounting may be counterproductive.” Look at the many variables. Also recognize that there are many variables in the equation, such as how discounting will impact profit margins, or if it will actually drive up sales volume, says Isaac. If you do discount, do it strategically to make sure you get something of equal or greater value in return, he advises.

For instance, Goldberg used to sell his consulting time in 10-hour blocks. If a customer bought 100 hours, his hourly rate would drop 40 percent because of the longer commitment. “If you can keep a customer longer, that’s a very good thing,” he says.

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Motivating Sales Reps

It’s my belief that the only one that can motivate you is yourself. That said, part of a sales manager’s job description is motivating their sales team.

I suggest that if you want to motivate the salespeople who work for you, you have to have an in-depth understanding of why they work. While the easy answer is “money,” the truth is that no one goes to work in order to accumulate more green pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them. We all actually work for whatever those green pieces of paper will do for us. Yes, we all want job satisfaction, growth, etc. but the simple fact is most of us work for money. In order to be a more effective motivator, we have to have enough conversations with our people so that we know what the money means to them.

For example, I recently hired a VP of Business Development for my organization. Through conversation, I learned that his #1 motivator is making sure his three young children will be able to go to college without him going into serious debt. (With three young kids of my own this one hit home!) You can be assured that we’ve implemented tracking systems to provide me with metrics about his prospecting and sales activity so that, over time, he and I will both know EXACTLY how much activity he needs to do on a daily basis in order to achieve, and exceed, his financial goals and to make certain he has the money he needs to put his children through college when the time comes.

Pump-up talks are great (as an Inspirational Keynote Speaker I know how to pump up the team!) and contests are cool, but there’s nothing that takes the place of understanding what drives your people, and using that to help them motivate themselves.

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Negotiating – The Golden Rule

One of the aspects of selling I get asked about on a regular basis is negotiating. “How can I negotiate more effectively?” “What do I need to do to make sure I get my price?” (or as close as possible) “Given that the people I’m negotiating against have often been trained in negotiating techniques what chance do I have of closing a profitable deal?” These, and other questions, are posed to me on an almost daily basis so I’m going to give you my very best advice regarding negotiating. Ready?

DON’T.

Well, that was simple, wasn’t it? That’s right. My very best advice regarding negotiating is, “Don’t do it.” Don’t negotiate. Ahhhhh, I can hear you right now saying, “But Jeff, I live in the real world and in this world you have to negotiate.” Well, ducky, I live in the real world too and I don’t negotiate. For sure I don’t negotiate my price. Let me explain why.

I offer a service. Training, seminars, keynote speeches, consulting. My time is valuable, just as yours is. My services are valuable too. Just as your products or services are. I gave a lot of thought when I decided how to price my services. What is the value of my time and teachings? What is the “going” rate for similar services. How much money do I need to earn to be profitable? After careful consideration I came up with what I felt was the “right” price. It’s a price that’s fair and reasonable. It’s a price that when clients pay it to me I feel I’ve been fairly compensated for what I’ve delivered. It’s a price that when my clients pay it to me THEY feel like they been treated fairly and received outstanding value. So, if all those things are true, why would I ever negotiate?

One of the things you need to understand is that it’s human nature to want to receive a fair deal. It’s also human nature to want to receive the “best” deal you possibly can. But you also have to understand that a question regarding price (which usually sounds like this – “Can you do any better on the price?”) is often just a question. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if you don’t do better on price that the prospect won’t buy from you. Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t think that way and as soon as they hear a price question they automatically drop their price. Dropping your price isn’t negotiating, it’s discounting. If you want to consider dropping price as negotiating then understand it’s the weakest form of negotiation and it’s what the weak salesperson does first.

Why do people try to negotiate with you but not when they buy tickets at the movies? Why do prospects expect a better price from you but not at the grocery store? We could go on with examples all day long but the reason is simple: At the movie theater the price is the price. Same thing at the grocery store. In the movie “Borat” the star goes into a hotel to book a room. When the front desk clerk gives him the nightly rate Borat makes a counteroffer. The clerk explains that the rate is the rate. Why should your rate be subject to negotiating? We train our customers how to buy from us. If we let them know that we’ll discount once, they’ll expect a price reduction every time they buy. Better to train them to buy on value so that price isn’t a concern.

What you want to get really good at is defending your price. You must be able to explain to your prospect, in a way they’ll relate to and understand, why your price is fair and reasonable. You must get very good at showing the value of what you’re selling. People buy value and relationship, not price. What is the value of owning your product or service? What benefits will your prospects receive when they become your customer? How will it improve their life, business, profitability, etc? When you’ve done a good job of selling you’ve carefully pointed out the value and if you’ve done that the price question (“can you do any better?”) is usually simply that. A question.

Now, since I do live in the real world I understand that you might not be in a position where you won’t discount so here are some tips for better negotiating if you must.

1) Never give anything up in a negotiation without getting something back. If you give up something without getting anything in return you’re discounting, not negotiating.
2) Know your walk-away point. Before negotiating effectively you must know the point where if it’s one penny less you’ll walk away from the deal.
3) Be willing to walk away. If you’re not willing to walk away from the deal you can’t negotiate effectively. This means you must have a full pipeline of prospects you’re working with so that no one deal is too important. By having many opportunities to work on at any given time no one deal will run your life.
4) Know what you can add-in that will cost little or no money. For example, when I train salespeople I often include a follow-up session over the phone. While my time is valuable and worth money it doesn’t cost me very much to do a follow-up session but my client receives great value from it. Before I’d ever drop price I’d offer to include an extra follow-up session or two. My client wins and so do I. That should be the goal of all negotiations, the client and you must both win.
5) Give the client a good reason to pay you your price. A while back I had a conversation with a prospect regarding training his team. It was a fairly good sized deal and I wanted to close it. When I gave the client my pricing he asked if I could do better. I explained why I was charging what I was charging. He asked again if I could do better. I explained, “Yes, I could chop $4000.00 off the price but let me ask you this: When I’m standing in front of your team and training them, would you like every thought in my head to be focussed on delivering the material in a way that they’ll understand it and be able to implement it immediately or do you want the little voice in the back of my head to be whispering to me, “They chewed you down $4000 on price?” The client said that the initial price I gave him would be fine and the deal closed. Whenever you want someone to do something for you (in this case pay me my asking price) show them why it’s good for them. (in this case paying me my full price allowed me to focus 100% on his sales team)

Here’s another thought for you…when someone substantially drops their price to me I feel like they’re a thief. I bought a snowblower a few years ago. I went to a local store and inquired about a model they had on the floor. I was told the price would be $600. I asked the owner if he could do any better and after a few seconds he replied, “If you buy it right now I’ll give it to you for $450.” I shook his hand a left the store without buying the snowblower, drove to Sears and bought one there. Why? If he could that quickly shave $150 off the price then he was ripping me off at his asking price of $600. What if I hadn’t asked if he could do better and had accepted his asking price of $600? I don’t do business with thieves.

Get good at defending your price and you’ll find that you’ll end up negotiating more effectively. You’ll be happier, your company will be more profitable and your clients (if they’re anything like me) will probably feel like they’ve been treated fairly.

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Want to Sell More? Just Be Yourself!

I recently got back from a bike ride on the boardwalk along the ocean near where I live, and while riding I “people-watch.” Living in a beach community you get to see lots of different types of people, especially when the weather’s nice, as it is now.

I was noticing the amazing variety of people today. Men, women, kids. Some riding bikes. Some faster than me and others that I left in the dust. Some jogging, some running, some walking. Women in full makeup and high heels as well as others in workout gear and sweating up a storm. Fat men with their shirts off (ugh) and young guys with buff bodies that make me ride a little faster and longer so that I, too, can have abs that others can see instead of only in my dreams. For now, my abs are hidden by a layer of…well, we don’t have to go there. The point is each of the people I noticed were being themselves and I was being myself. I didn’t need to be anyone else and neither did they. So, what does this have to do with selling?

For years I’ve attended seminars and read books and newsletters (I still do) in order to learn what’s out there and help improve myself. I can’t tell you how many workshops I’ve attended that teach how you to figure out what “type” of person/buyer the prospect is and how to adjust your selling style to match their buying style in order to improve the odds of getting a sale.

One organization calls them Bosses, Users, Gatekeepers and Supporters. (BUGS) Another calls them Drivers, Analyticals, Amiables and Expressives. The list goes on and on. Supposedly, if you figure out what “type” your prospect is you can then change who you are or how you sell to better accommodate the way they like to buy. BUNK!

Just like I don’t change who I am when I am riding my bicycle, I don’t change who I am when I’m selling. I suggest that people, including your prospects, can “smell” a phony a mile away and changing who you are or how you are being with them will set off alarms in their heads. It’s kind of like dating. (in fact, a sales call is very much like a date) If you meet someone and are on your best behavior, acting like the person you think they’d like you to be, you’re going to be in deep trouble later on when you start acting like who you really are. If you like to eat ribs with your fingers (is there any other way?) would you use a knife and fork on a date so that the person sitting across from you doesn’t see you getting bbq sauce all over your fingers? Probably not, so why would you act differently with a prospect just because of what type they are?

Don’t get me wrong, if your prospect talks slowly and thinks slowly and you’re a fast talker it’s probably wise to slow down a little bit when dealing with this particular person. But changing your entire style and personality? Silly.

The fact is that buyers buy two things: relationship and value. I’ve dealt with value in this column before and will most likely deal with it again soon, as it is so important. Relationship is equally important. People buy from those they like and trust unless they have no choice, which isn’t usually the case. How can you have a relationship based on like and trust if the prospect isn’t getting to know the “real” you?

If you are a heavy drinker or drug user I’m not suggesting you should be drink or high on sales calls but I do suggest you Just Be Yourself. People will either like you or not. Typically salespeople are “people” people. One of the traits of most great salespeople is their “likeability” factor. The “greats” are almost always the type of people that others immediately like. By being yourself, instead of worrying about what “type” the other person is, you can develop a real rapport which can lead to like and trust and, hopefully, a long-term profitable business relationship.

Forget all that other stuff. Just Be Yourself. You’ll have more fun and close more business.

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