Look for the Fish That ARE Biting!

We salespeople are optimists! I like being optimistic, and having that quality is one of the things that allows us to do our jobs well. Let’s face it, typically more prospects say, “No,” to our offering than say, “Yes.” Unless you have a better than 50% closing ratio you hear the word “No” far more often than “Yes.” If we weren’t optimists, believing that everything will work out fine, we couldn’t do our jobs very long in the face of the massive rejection most of us salespeople face each day. That’s where the problem lies. The same optimism that makes us believe that “Yes” is right around the corner often blinds us to when people are saying “No” and we end up chasing every prospect equally. In a perfect world (one without clocks) that would be fine but in this world we have a limited amount of time. Unfortunately most salespeople act as if time is unlimited.

Since it’s a given that we only have so many hours each day and each week that we can do what we do (sell) we need to find a way to make the most of every minute and highly respect the fact that we can only work with so many prospects at any given time. We also need to figure out how to decide which prospects are worth pursuing and which aren’t. We need to know when “No” means “No” and when it means, “I need some more reasons to buy and then I might become a customer.” One of the things that makes this difficult is that we salespeople are generally very likeable and people don’t like to say “No” to us. They’ll use different words and methods for saying “No” so that they don’t offend us but we salespeople take those words to mean “Yes.”

The first thing you should understand is that “No” is a gift. When a prospect tells you they’re not buying, and they really mean it, they’ve given you the gift of time. If they really aren’t buying you can shake their hand, tell them you’ve enjoyed meeting them and would love to do business with them anytime they’re ready and you can move on to another prospect that might actually buy from you. In other words they give you time to go find a fish that might bite. I love when I get a real “No” from a prospect. I don’t like it as much as I like “Yes” but “No” is a very close second. What I don’t like, and try my best to avoid, is anything other than “Yes” or “No.” Things like, “I need to think it over,” or “I need to speak with my partner.” (my accountant, the committee, etc.) These are the things that steal your time and your attitude and often mean you’re not getting the sale but the prospect just doesn’t want to use the word “No.”

It’s the same whether your selling your product or setting (selling) the appointment. You want to look for the fish that are biting. If you saw the movie, “The Perfect Storm,” you’ll remember that the fisherman on the Andrea Gale weren’t having much luck. Their captain decides they should head someplace else. Why? Because he knew that it was foolish to fish where the fish weren’t biting and it was far smarter to fish where they were biting. (of course it’s a good idea to avoid being in the middle of three storms colliding while you’re fishing but that’s another story) It sounds so simple but take a look at the prospects in your current pipeline. How long have you been “chasing” them? What’s your typical sales cycle? How far past your typical sales cycle are you? (the likelihood of closing a deal decreases dramatically the further you exceed your typical sales cycle) Are they returning your phone calls? Are they stalling you? (“Call me next week, month, quarter, century) If you’re chasing the fish that aren’t biting and devoting the same amount of time and attention to them as the fish that are biting (returning your calls, setting next action steps with you) you’re not investing your valuable time wisely.

Not closing enough business? Perhaps you’re spending too much time working with fish that aren’t biting. Try another vertical. See if previous clients are ready to buy again. (previous or existing clients are generally far easier to see than someone who hasn’t done business with you before) Fill your pipeline with new prospects while keeping your eyes and ears attuned to the signals that mean “No” and be sure to fish where the fish are biting!

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Can’t We Just Lower Our Price???

As a trainer I often have salespeople approach me with the following statement:

“Jeff, if the company would just lower our prices I know I would sell more.” Really? Ya think? This is a perfect example of what Zig Ziglar calls “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.” Allow me to explain why.

The company you work for charges money for the product or service you sell. Unless you work for thieves (and I know a few of you might) the price you are required to charge your customer has been thought about, discussed and analyzed. Your company made a decision to charge whatever you charge based on many things including what it costs the company to produce the product or service as well as how much they have to pay you (and all other employees) and how much profit the company needs to make.

By thinking you’ll make more sales if your company lowers their prices you’re buying into the incorrect thought that the number one thing customers care about is price. WRONG! If all the customer cared about was price, the lowest priced competitor would get all the sales. But do they? Nope. If that was true, Vonage would get all the telecom customers. Netzero (are they still in business?) would be everyone’s Internet provider. While there are some customers that will cut your legs off at the knees in order to save a nickle, that’s not most people. Customers buy two things: Value and Relationship. (hint – that’s such an important concept I bolded it, italicized it and underlined it!)

Look at your own life to see if this is true for you. The last time you went to buy a car did you look for the cheapest car you could possibly find? Unless you bought a 20-year- old used car it’s unlikely you bought your car based on price. Okay, so maybe you wanted a new car. Unless you bought a Saturn or a Kia you probably didn’t choose your car based on price either.

Since I like the car example let’s stick with it a little longer. I’ll bet some of you own nice cars. Very nice cars. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Porsche. If you own one of those, my question is: “Why didn’t you buy a Saturn?” I’ll bet if we were talking to each other right now you could give me lots of great reasons why you chose the car you bought instead of a Saturn. (btw – I have nothing against Saturns or Saturn owners – I’m just saying it’s a relatively inexpensive car compared to many) Perhaps you’d tell me that your BMW is a better built car, that it has a better warranty, it’s more comfortable, will last longer, have better resale value, is more impressive to your friends and neighbors and a whole host of other reasons why you spent $70,000.00 for your car instead of 16k. And my point is not that I think you were foolish to spend $54,000.00 more for a car than you needed to. My point is that you saw $54,000.00 more value in owning a BMW over owning a Saturn. That’s what your customers use to make buying decisions too. Value. Which means it’s our job as salespeople to be able to clearly show the value of what we offer in a way that the prospect absolutely understands.

What part does relationship play in the buying decision? You’ve probably heard that people buy from people they like and trust. In almost every case that’s true. Would you buy a product or service from someone you didn’t like or didn’t trust. Probably not unless there was absolutely nowhere else to get it and it was something you absolutely had to have. Haven’t you ever paid more for something, knowing that you could get it somewhere else for less, because you like the salesperson? I know I have. I’ve been using the same mechanic to work on my cars for the last 8 years. He’s not the closest to where I live, in fact he’s rather out of the way for me. For sure he’s not the cheapest. I can get an oil change, and most repairs, done for less. (not always a lot less, but usually less) So why do I go to this particular mechanic? Simple. I trust him. I believe he’s amazingly knowledgeable about cars and what makes them work (or not work) and I believe he’ll never do a repair that I don’t need. He’s proven this on numerous occasions. I’ve come to him telling him I think I need a brake job and he’s shown me the noise I was hearing was simply something caught in my hubcap. Another mechanic might have agreed with my uneducated diagnosis and done an unneeded, and expensive, brake job. To me, and I’ll bet to you and your customers, knowing that I’m in good hands and won’t be ripped off is worth a few extra dollars on each transaction.

Want to be a better salesperson? Want to close more business and make more money? Want to turn prospects into customers and customers into raving fans? Spend less time on perfecting your brilliant presentation. Spend less time on learning closing tricks that don’t work anyway. Spend more time on establishing, developing and nurturing relationships with your prospects and customers. Spend more time learning about their world (what they’ve done in the past, what they’re doing now, what their trying to accomplish in the future) and spend more time figuring out how to show your prospects the value of what you offer and the brilliance of buying it from you, even if your price isn’t the lowest.

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Resist the Urge to Be Snarky!

Resist the Urge to Be “Snarky” or Lazy

 About a month ago I was referred to a prospective client by someone he trusts. We set an appointment and I took the train into NYC to meet with him. The meeting went very well, in my opinion. We had a good rapport going, the CEO was very forthcoming about his challenges and his needs and I was, in my opinion, a perfect match.

Typically I do not leave a meeting like this without arranging a next meeting. For whatever reason, perhaps laziness, I didn’t do so. I suspect that I felt so confident that I had done a great job and that OF COURSE the prospect was feeling god about me and what I offer that I didn’t see the need to set another appointment to get back on a train and head into NYC. Big mistake.

I followed up promptly with both an email and hand-written thank you note as well as an initial outline of ideas. I followed up by phone three times, leaving messages each time, but got no response. Little annoys me more than people who have requested and received some of my (valuable) time who then “go dark” and are non-responsive.

This morning I decided that I had “had enough” and I wrote an email to him (which I didn’t send) asking for “the professional courtesy of a response.” I was pissed off that my time was wasted and felt I was “owed” the courtesy of a reply. This message, if sent, would have been me defending what I considered to be the “high moral ground” and without a doubt would have pissed off the prospect. Rather than send it, I considered, “What purpose will this email serve? Will it get the prospective client to get in touch? Will it further any possible business relationship? Is this just me being pissy?” The answers to these three questions were:

1)   What purpose? It will most likely piss off the prospect and will not get him to think I can be a valuable resource for his company.

2)   Will he get in touch? If at all it would probably be to say “Go f*#% yourself.”

3)   Am I being pissy? Yes.

Sending the email might have made me feel momentarily good (Because I was so convinced I was “in the right”) but instead, I deleted it and wrote a different email explaining that “…while I felt I could add significant value to the organization apparently I didn’t do a good job of conveying it to you. If I can ever be of service please let me know and we can continue the discussion.”

I received a response almost immediately explaining that the company was still in the exploratory phase, that I’m still in consideration and that the CEO will reach out soon.

Will this turn into a deal? Perhaps. Would the chance have still existed had I sent my “snarky” email? Undoubtedly not.

1)   Resist the urge to be pissy with people. You may be talking yourself out of business.

2)   Be gracious. You never know what someone else is going through, how busy they are, what else is going on in their personal or professional life.

3)   Take the high road. Even if you’re “in the right” it does no good to put others down.

4)   Don’t be lazy. ALWAYS set a Best Next Action Step with a specific date and time to meet/speak again. It’s a strong indicator of a prospective client’s interest when they agree to meet with you again.

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It Doesn’t Matter What YOU Think!

Clearly, in terms of achieving goals and having the things you want in life your attitude and the things you think are extremely important. What I’m talking about here is that between you and your customer, it doesn’t matter what you think. The only important thing is what your valuable customer thinks.

I recently had an experience that humbled me and taught me a lesson. Those of you who have seen me work know that I tend to use a lot of humor in my presentations. I do so because I enjoy it, the people I’m working with seem to enjoy it and, in my mind, it’s a way to keep you involved and to prevent you from getting bored while learning new techniques that might help you be more successful. This hasn’t been a problem in the past. A while back, however, I actually lost an engagement I was very much looking forward to. Among the reasons my valuable ex-client gave me for choosing to not work with me further was that he felt some of my humor was inappropriate for his team.

Before you jump to conclusions, I didn’t (and don’t) use foul language or sexual innuendos during my presentations. But I did say some things that clearly offended this client. When the client shared his feelings with me I listened carefully, apologized and wished him the best. The truth of the matter, though, is that while listening to the things he felt were offensive my mind was saying, “Wow, how could you be offended by that? Are you nuts? Don’t you have a sense of humor? Didn’t you hear your entire sales team laughing along with me?”

Later, while thinking about the situation it suddenly dawned on me. Like everyone else in the world, I do the things I do because those things make sense to me. I dress a certain way, speak a certain way, train a certain way. To some extent it’s true that you can’t please everyone and it’s also true that while I’m a good fit for most organizations I might not be a good fit for everyone. But it’s also true, and far more important to realize, that it doesn’t matter what I think. The important thing is what this customer (and all customers) thinks.

I feel the humor I used was funny and completely appropriate. Does that matter? Not one bit. I still lost the gig and while, typically, no one customer makes my month or year I greatly value and appreciate everyone who does business with me. What matters here is that my customer didn’t find my humor appropriate. To me, it’s not about the money. Losing the money wasn’t very important, you can always make more money. In fact, I didn’t charge the client for the work I had already done. What was important was that this customer felt let down and, to me, that’s completely unacceptable.

So how does this apply to us as salespeople? How often do we sit across from prospects and clients in a selling situation and think to ourselves, “This person doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” “I hope this jerk will stop talking soon so that I can dazzle them with my brilliance.” I’m sure you can come up with other examples of the negative “inner talk” that goes on for all of us at times. I suggest that by having this type of mind-set we often talk ourselves out of business, simply because what we think (even to ourselves) usually gets expressed in some way.

In order to be more effective sellers we have to be better listeners. Part of listening means turning off our inner conversations. You know, the little voice inside your head that’s whispering to you almost constantly while the other person is talking. To be a more effective listener we need to come from the fact that the most important person in the sales relationship is the customer. They’ve got a situation, problem or need that you might be able to help with, fix or fill. If we listen through the filter of, “I hope they stop talking soon because I don’t really care what you think, I just want to show you what I’ve got,” we’ll miss what the prospect or customer is saying.

By practicing turning off that inner voice and realizing that the customer has the most important things to say to us (how we can help them and how we can sell them) we’ll deepen our relationships, be better listeners and close more business. Tough lesson for me to learn but it’s the tough ones that make us stronger and better!

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Networking…It Works!

I’m often asked, “Jeff, where do you get your leads? Is networking is an effective replacement for cold calling?” Wow! Great, and important, questions. Leads can come from many sources and no one who works with leads should ever be without a large supply. They’re out there waiting for you if you just know where to look.

Is networking a replacement for picking up the phone and dialing? In most instances, no. While networking can get you leads it’s typically a long process as people get to know and trust you. Cold calling has a more immediate and dramatic affect on your pipeline of appointments, which always needs to stay full if you want to make a lot of money.

That said, how do we improve the quality and results of our networking? Here are some tips, gained from personal experience over the years:

Tip #1 – When you get to a networking event, look for people you DON’T know.

Many people, when networking, walk into an event and look for familiar faces. They then proceed to spend the rest of the event drinking, eating and chatting with their friends. While networking with friends is important too, you can do that anytime. Pick out someone who looks interesting, walk up to them with a smile on your face and your hand stretched out ready to shake theirs and say, “Hi Dave, (assuming they have a name tag) my name is Jeff Goldberg. Nice to meet you. Great event, isn’t it? Hey, I’m just curious, what do you do?” Dave will then explain what he does for a living and while he’s doing that you should be actively engaged in listening. This is not the time to check your watch or look around the room for other people you’d like to meet. Give the person you’re speaking with your undivided attention and make them feel important and special. When Dave finishes, he will almost always end with, “So what do you do Jeff?” This gives you the opening you need to move on to Tip #2.

Tip #2 – Have your “Elevator Speech” polished and ready to go.

When someone asks you what you do, that’s not the time to figure out how to describe your job. If you don’t have a well crafted “elevator speech” in advance of needing it you might very well blow your small window of opportunity to make a connection. Your elevator speech must be brief, clear and concise. It must quickly explain to the listener what you do and where you add value. It must be delivered in such a way that the person listening could then tell others what you do. There should be nothing in your elevator speech that causes the other person to think, “What does that mean,” or “I don’t understand.”
Here’s an example –
“Well Dave, my company is Jeff Goldberg and Associates. We’re a sales training and consulting firm that helps sales organizations achieve measurable and sustainable sales improvement. We work with salespeople to help them to get more appointments with decision-makers, shorten their sales cycle and close more business, more profitably.
Brief, to the point, easily understandable and repeatable.

Tip #3 – Know what constitutes a good lead for you.

Know what a good lead is for you and make it easy for the other person to help you find people like that. A clearly defined good lead for you makes everyone’s life easier. For example, a good lead for me is a CEO, President or VP Sales at any company, anywhere in the world, that has a sales team of 10 people or more. I suggest you include your, “A good lead for me is,” at the end of your brief commercial. So mine would sound like this: “I’m in a unique position to work with sales professionals in a fun and highly productive way to help them close more business and make more money. By the way, a good lead for me is an introduction to the president, CEO or VP of Sales at a company that employs inside or direct salespeople where sales aren’t as good as they’d like them to be.”

Tip #4 – You have to “Give to Get.”

Most people network to get leads or referrals, and of course that’s what you should hope to do. The problem with that is there’s no WIIFM. (What’s In It for Me) Each of us does the things we do and makes decisions based on WIIFM. If we go to a networking event thinking about all the great leads we hope to get, the people we meet and network with will “smell” the greed coming off you in waves. When meeting and speaking with people, I suggest you should instead be thinking, “How can I help this person?” It often happens that I’ll be at a networking function and after listening to the other person speak, I immediately offer some leads to the person. If someone gives you a gift don’t you feel better about, and perhaps even a bit obligated, to give one in return? By offering help, others are more likely to give you theirs.

Tip #5 – Make specific requests.

If there is a particular company you’re looking to work with or a particular person you want to be introduced to, ask. “By the way, Steve, I’m very interested in working with Microsoft. By any chance do you know Bill Gates or someone else who might be able to help me meet him?”

Tip #6 – Loosen up and have some fun.

No one likes to talk with people who are bored, boring or depressed. Conversely, almost everyone enjoys speaking with others who are upbeat, excited about life and who show they are genuinely interested in them. Did you ever notice how someone who is interested in you is more interesting to you? Show people you’re interested in them by asking good questions and actively listening.

Make these tips part of your networking arsenal and watch your lead flow increase!

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Getting Referrals (Or would you prefer to cold call???)

Let’s face it. None of us likes cold calling (anyone who tells me they enjoy cold calling is either lying or crazy!) but it’s a fact of life for most salespeople. In order to keep a steady stream of sales coming in we need to keep a full pipeline of appointments at all times and, typically, that means at least a part of each day needs to be spent making cold calls.

If you really enjoy cold calling, no need to read further. But if, like me, you cold call simply because it’s a necessary evil then you might want to consider the best method for “warming up” your cold calls: referrals.

Nothing makes an appointment easier to get than a referral but in my experience most salespeople don’t ask for them. I’m not sure what the reason is. Laziness? Fear? Lack of knowledge? Perhaps all three. I can’t help you be less lazy but I can help with the other two. By having the knowledge of how to go about asking for referrals you’ll eliminate most of your fear and end up with some nice warm leads which can turn into sales and income.

Rule # 1 – Ask everyone for referrals.
If you make a sale, ask your customer for referrals. If you don’t make the sale, ask for referrals anyway. Whether someone just bought from you or they’re a long-time satisfied customer this group of people should be more than willing to give you referrals if you ask. If you don’t close the sale but have done a good job of adding value on your sales visits with this non-customer you should have no hesitation about asking for referrals. Even though your product or service might not be right for them, they most likely know someone who can benefit from what you have to offer.

Rule # 2 – Ask properly.
Most salespeople ask for referrals like this: (usually with a sheepish look on their faces) “So, do you know anyone you can refer me to?”
If your product or service is good then ask with confidence. I generally find most people like to help others. Let others help you! Rather than asking if someone knows anyone else, ask, “Who do you know that I should be speaking with?” It’s a much better question and more likely to get someone looking through their mental rolodex. SPecific examples often help. “Who do you know that I should be speaking with. I do a lot of work in the world of advertising. Who do you know in advertising that might benefit from a conversation with me?”

Rule # 3 – Don’t stop when you get the referral.
Here’s the part that will turn your referral into a solid appointment. Once someone is kind enough to give you a referral, immediately say, “Thanks very much for this referral. Could I ask a brief favor? Would you mind giving Bob (the referral’s name) a quick call right now letting him know that I’ll be calling?” I can’t begin to tell you how powerful this can be.

Several years ago I was sitting in the office of the Senior VP of Sales at one of my largest and best clients. After graciously giving me two referrals I asked if he’d call them both to let them know to expect my call. Steve (name changed to protect the innocent) said he wouldn’t, but he’d be glad to send them both an e-mail, which he did on the spot. I called both referrals the following day and got appointments with both.

One of the people “Steve” referred me to was the high-powered President of an organization that sells advertising. When I arrived at Darlene’s (name changed to protect the innocent) office, she greeted me by saying, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Jeff. Before we get started, I just want you to know that I have absolutely no use or interest in anything you have to offer. My sales team is the most highly skilled and well trained team of salespeople in the world of advertising. Now please sit down and make yourself comfortable.”

As you can imagine, I didn’t feel that this was a terrific way to start the meeting. In fact, I immediately asked Darlene the “Blue Elephant” question. (If you come to my office to sell me something and notice that sitting next to my desk there just happens to be a live blue elephant, you probably won’t start the meeting by commenting on the weather, will you? No, you’ll ask the obvious question…”What’s up with the blue elephant?”) In this case, the question I asked was, “Darlene, if you have absolutely no use for or interest in anything I have to offer, what the heck am I doing here?” Darlene replied, “That’s easy. You’re here because Steve asked me to meet with you.”

You, at this point, might be thinking, “Why would Jeff want to waste his time meeting with people who have no interest in what he has to offer? Why didn’t he qualify Darlene before he went to meet with her?” Simple, my friends. If people were interested in what I have to offer, they would have called me. Of course Darlene wasn’t interested. Before I arrived at her office, she believed her team knew everything they needed to know to be amazingly successful. The moral of the story is that 90 minutes after her less-than-enthusiastic greeting, Darlene hired me to come train her people.

Always ask for referrals and always ask the referrer to contact the person they’re referring you to. Will you get referrals every time? Nope. Will they call or e- mail for you every time? Nope. But techniques don’t have to work every time. They just have to help you be a little bit better than you already are in order to help you make more money. If this method gets you just one more appointment every two weeks, that’s about 25 more appointments per year. Whatever your closing ratio is, can you use the sales ($$$) you’ll get from 25 more appointments this year?

Try this method and see if it works for you too.

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How Do I Establish Rapport with Someone I’ve Just Met?

We’ve all heard it…people buy from people they like and trust. It’s true…would you buy something from someone you didn’t like and trust? Only if you had to, and unless your product or service is very different from mine, your customers don’t have to buy from you. But how do you get people to like and trust you, especially since on a sales call you’re not typically getting to know them in a relaxed setting.

Let’s face it, a sales call is a somewhat awkward situation if you haven’t met the prospect before. It’s kind of like a date. Will she like me? Will she trust me? Will she “buy?” The prospect knows you’re there to sell them, and you know you’re there to sell them, but we can’t just walk in and start selling.

I guess you could walk in and start “pitching” but that’s not very effective, is it? The fact is that most of us can’t wait to get to the part where we begin presenting. The truth is most of us wish we could skip all the preliminaries. Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk in, present and get the order? Well, while it might be great, it isn’t what works. (If it works in your world, please e-mail me and let me know what color the sun is on your planet)

Most salespeople use cheesy, canned “lines” in order to establish rapport. Lines like, “Nice weather we’re having,” “How ’bout those Mets,” or “You golf? I golf!” Supposedly these result in a warm fuzzy feeling between you and your prospect. Do they? I suggest they don’t. The prospect knows what you’re doing and it’s typically uncomfortable for both of you. Lines like these result in the prospect looking at their watch and wondering when you’re going to get to the point. Don’t get me wrong, if all you have in your arsenal are lines like those above, use them. You can’t just walk into someone’s office and start pitching so that kind of small talk is better than none.

I think there’s a better way to begin a sales call and I think that better way is to have a conversation about everyone’s favorite subject (and we all have the same favorite subject). No, it’s not sports, not money, not food. It’s themselves. Everyone’s favorite subject is ME! Even people who say they don’t like to talk about themselves, like to talk about themselves if you ask the right question. 

So how do you get your prospects talking about themselves? Here’s how I do it: “Steve, I’m just curious…before we get started, how’d you get to be the VP of Sales here at ReallyBigCo?” I say it exactly that way for a reason. When you say, “I’m just curious, before we get started,” it’s kind of like you’re off the record and people tend to open up more freely. I usually wind up with my prospect telling me about their resume, background and history for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. While they’re talking about themselves I’m listening attentively. Now that’s easy for me to do because I’m genuinely interested in people. If you’re not really interested, fake it. Did you ever notice that when someone is interested in you, they seem more interesting to you? That’s why this technique works so well. When you ask someone about themselves and actively listen you give them the gift of being listened to, and most of us don’t get listened to in life. Our spouses, kids, co-workers and most others don’t listen to us most of the time. When you ask someone about themselves, and listen, they start to like and trust you. Will you be best friends after that? Nope, but you’re on the way to establishing real rapport.

Try this method on your next sales call and see how it works for you.

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Email – A Great Tool?

I love using email, really! It’s fast, it’s efficient and I don’t need to waste a lot of time on small talk. Sometimes it’s exactly the right tool for the job at hand. But, it’s a way less than perfect way to communicate.

Each time you’re about to write an email ask yourself:

1) Am I using email for this communication because it’s quick and easy?

2) Is this the most effective way to communicate with my prospect/customer?

3) Will this email increase/improve my relationship with my prospect/customer?

Most of the time the smart move is to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, you may end up discussing stuff other than the business at hand. Yes I know you don’t have the time to speak with everyone. That said, email, while expedient, is subject to interpretation and can OFTEN result in miscommunication. I’ve been in email wars over a joke or something that was (in my opinion) innocuous because the recipient didn’t read the message in the tone of voice I was using when I write it.

Use the appropriate tool to communicate and you’ll sell more! Sometimes that IS email…more often than not, it’s the phone. Personal communications increases personal relationship which increases sales.

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Your LinkedIn Profile

A lot of people check out my LinkedIn profile and I get some good feedback on it. I think a strong LI profile is very important in the world of sales. A while back I was given some advice about my profile that was a big change for me but once I heard it, it made perfect sense.

Rather than acting as your resume, which many (if not most) LI profiles do, use your profile to showcase what you do. When a prospect, or someone who could eventually become a prospect, looks at your profile they should immediately be able to understand what it is that you bring to the table. Why they should use your services, why they should refer you to others.

Make sure your headline is descriptive and gets the point across quickly. Most LI headlines are boring. Have some fun!

LinkedIn is among the most powerful sales tools available today. Make your profile count.

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Last Friday, as I was driving home in terrible traffic from a sales call in Manhattan (don’t ask why I drove instead of taking the train!) my phone rang at 4:45 p.m. It turned out to be two sales reps from a bank I’m currently working with and I could tell by the tone of their voices that they were very excited.

The reps told me that they had spent the day together going on sales calls and that the day had gone well, but that wasn’t why they were calling. They told me, “We’re calling to let you know that when we got back to the office at 4:30 we decided to pound out a few cold calls to see if we could get some appointments.” I couldn’t imagine why anyone would be excited about having made cold calls at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, but they continued by saying, “We wanted to tell you that we got two appointments within 10 minutes and we thought you’d like to hear that what you’ve taught us works!”

At that point, I got excited too! Not because I had received a compliment, but because these two superstars had done what most salespeople will not do. They took it upon themselves to make sure their pipeline was filled with appointments and they made cold calls at a time when most salespeople have either already gone home or are packing things up to leave and they’ve already got weekend on their mind. These two did what most salespeople won’t. They made the extra effort and proved to themselves:

1) Cold calling still works if you do it well, and

2) There is no good or bad time to prospect.

If these two guys can make two appointments in 10 minutes on a Friday afternoon at 4:30, can’t you? Do you go the extra mile in your prospecting and selling efforts or do you throw in the towel and give yourself excuses? These winners were definitely not thinking, “Cold calling doesn’t work,” or, “No one is going to talk with us at the end of the day on a Friday and even if they do no one if going to give us an appointment.” I would bet big money that these two guys will be closing out 2013 big and will both have a HUGE 2014.

How about you?

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