Saturday, June 28, 2008

From the Heart

Sales, money, success - we take ourselves very serious sometimes, and I'd be the first to admit that I take myself too serious. In the past year I've - finally - learned that I get stuck if I try to make people belief that I'm perfect. In fact, I started to believe this myself.
This doesn't work, got myself fooled, but what's worse: it puts people off, at the expense of your relationship with them. This is not a third person novel; the reality is that I've put people off at the expense of my relationship with them. And I'm sorry, it shouldn't have been that way.

Fact is, I just hadn't figured it out, and now I wish I had sooner than I did. It's been so much better since. I am learning a great deal about humbleness, and I was lucky enough to get great perspective offered to me by an unbelievably experienced man and one of the best mentors I've met to date - Chuck Sheldon. Thank you Chuck - if you ever read this - for putting your trust in me. I will not let you down. I am just a lucky man that works hard, and hope to be of help to others when I'm ready.

Now what's next in my phase of falling and running at the same time is that I need to figure out how to be me with all the flaws I have, but also with what I hope I can bring to others.

The truth is, there's something to learn from every person you meet, you may just have to look harder sometimes and go beyond the obvious. Be open, learn, don't judge, and most of all: be true to your dearest by valueing the relationships you've built over time; pay your dues - put in the energy people deserve. Isn't this what we're all about?

Below is a post written by my favorite artist John Mayer. He's famous, has the money, is dating Jennifer Aniston, and yet seems to be real about the world and his role. He's thirty some years old and I think he saw the light much sooner than I did - I am not worthy. Thank you for these words JM - I wanted to share them with anyone reading this blog. Your message is understood.


I need to write this.
I've been traveling alone in Japan for the better part of three weeks now, and it's been so remarkable an experience for me that I can't book a ticket home yet. I haven't spoken very much out loud these days, but I've been thinking to myself in what feels like surround sound.

I can see so many things clearly, and feel so connected to myself and the world around me that I need to share the perspective with you.I'm already aware that when I sing, say or write anything, 50 percent of the response will be in support of it and the other 50 will want to discount it.

This blog, though, is directed to 100 percent of people reading it. If my blog truly does have any cultural effect, then it should be used for more than just pictures of sneakers and funny youtube videos. (If you don't think my blog has any effect, than you can't by definition be reading this right now and therefore don't have to respond to it in any way. Isn't that tidy?)

What I'm about to write isn't about fame or success or celebrity or the media.
That's my business.

This is about us all. This is about a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it's actually toxic. This is about the girl in her bedroom who poses in front of the camera she's awkwardly holding in her outstretched hand. She'll take a hundred photos until coming up with one she's happy with, which inevitably looks nothing like her, and after she's done poring over images of herself, will post one on her myspace page and then write something like " I don't give a f*ck what you think about me."
This is about the person trying out for American Idol, who while going off about how confident they are that they were born ready to sing in front of the world, are trembling so badly they can hardly breathe.
This is about me, the guy who walks through a throng of photographers into a restaurant like he's Paul Newman, but who leaves a "reject" pile of clothes in his closet so high that his cleaning lady can't figure out how one man can step into so many pairs of pants in a week.

This is about us all. Every one of us. Who all seem to know deep down that it's incredibly hard to be alive and interact with the world around us but will try and cover it up at any cost.
For as badass and unaffected as we try to come off, we're all just one sentence away from being brought to the edge of tears, if only it was worded right.

And I don't want to act immune to that anymore. I took the biggest detour from myself over the past year, since I decided that I wasn't going to care about what people thought about me. I got to the point where I had so much padding on that, sure, I couldn't feel the negativity, but that's because I couldn't feel much of anything.

And I think I'm done with that.
I'm not the first person to admit we're all self conscious, Kanye was.
But what I want to do is to shed a little light on why we're all in the same boat, no matter the shape of the life we lead: because every one of us were told since birth that we were special. We were spoken to by name through a television. We were promised we could be anything that we wanted to be, if only we believed it and then, faster than we saw coming, we were set loose into the world to shake hands with the millions of other people who were told the exact same thing.

And really? Really? It turns out we're just not all that special, when you break it down. Beautifully unspectacular, actually. And that truth is going to catch up with us whether we want to run from it or not.
The paparazzo following me to the gym ain't gonna be Herb Ritts and the guy he's following ain't gonna be Bob Dylan. It's just a matter of how old you are once you embrace that fact. And for me, 30 sounds about right.

What now, then? I can only really say for myself: Enjoy who I am, the talents and the liabilities. Stop acting careless. In fact, care more. Be vulnerable but stay away from where it hurts. Read. See more shows. Of any kind. Rock shows, art shows, boat shows. Create more art. Wear hoodies to dinner. Carry a notebook and hand it to people when they passionately recommend something and ask them to write it down for me.

Root for others.

Give more and expect the same in return, but over time.
Act nervous when I'm nervous, puzzled when I don't know what the hell to do, and smile when it all goes my way. And never in any other order than that.

And when it's all over, whether at the end of this fabulous career or of this life, which I hope takes place at the same time, I should look back and say that I had it good and I made the most of it while I was able. And so should you. I'm going quiet now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Set yourself up for success

Today's blog is about how you motivate yourself to be successful.

Do you know?
I mean: Do you actually know what triggers you to get up in the morning and be ready to make things happen?

Have you ever thought about what goals you want to achieve both professionally and personally over this year? Did you break those goals down in quarterly/monthly/weekly goals?
Do you know what you have to do today to start moving the ball forward so that you can attain those goals?

Here's the real secret to success.
Many books have been written about this subject (including the book 'The Secret'), and millions of people spend money on courses and tutoring, but the real trick is this simple:

1) Dream your dreams
2) Set your goals (1yr, 5 yrs, 10yrs, lifetime) to make your dreams come true, and share them with your environment (to create accountability, and allow others to help)
3) Break those goals down into realistic timeframes (half year, quarter, month, week, day)
4) Plan your day with those goals in mind (priority setting)
5) Make it happen, by being faithful to the daily targets you set (discipline)
6) Celebrate your milestones (don't make them too easy, and don't make them unattainable either)
7) Repeat

The bottom line is: if you want a castle, or a dream job, or you want to be the world's greatest guitar player: you can make it happen. But: nothing comes for free.

If you need to train, train.
If you need to save money, save money.
If you need to invest, invest.
And if you need to build skills, experience or knowledge, make sure that anything you do builds on those skills.

It isn't rocket science, but it certainly takes discipline, will-power, and perseverance. Every day, you will have to choose what action builds on your goals and set your decisions to it.

In sales, it isn't much different.
You have to set your goals, prepare your work, work it, and be successful at it by improving your game every single day. Make a game out of it, have a ball, talk to others about it, and share your successes, your thoughts, your imperfections, and learn.

Change your screensaver to your long-dreamed ferrari, or beach house.
Set your mind to where you want to be, and live it!

Nike's brilliant slogan is still valid today:


Happy selling and have a great day!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Splitting The Difference

More about negotiation in today's blog. We negotiate every day - who's going to get groceries, who's picking up the little one from day care, and who will drive on a night out. Our sales job is ALL about negotiations, it is about closing a deal, with an end-result that makes both parties feel good.

Here's an excerpt of an article originally written by Dr. Chester L. Karrass, that sheds some light on 'position' when negotiating:

This month I received an email from a client that asked me to elaborate on what happens when, in the negotiation process, you agree to "split the difference" to finalize an agreement.

This is an interesting negotiating topic. Research shows that "splitting the difference" can provide a simple, quick way to reach agreement. Many people use this approach all the time.

After all, people are used to giving and getting equal shares at home, at restaurants, and at birthday parties. Splitting in the middle is simple. Not splitting in the middle is full of problems. It brings up a tough question: "If not in the middle, where else?"

Think about it. When someone offers to split the difference, haven't they just offered you half the difference as a concession? Rather than saying "OK," your next thought should be: "How much of the remaining difference do I need?"

However, in professional negotiations "splitting the difference" can be a mistake. This is true if you are negotiating prices, hours a job will take, development costs, determining which department does what, scope-of-work issues, skill levels of people required to work on a project, ownership of intellectual property or software code, and a multitude of other negotiating situations.
Things that are equal may not necessarily be equitable. Splitting the difference is certainly equal, but it may not be equitable or fair. And, it may end up leaving both parties to the negotiation unsatisfied.

I know buyers who use the split approach. They make a low starting offer, raise it only slightly, and then say, "Okay, let's split the difference." These buyers know it's hard for a salesperson to say no to such a reasonable request. The salesperson gets sucked into the split and then discovers they give away too much. If a buyer suggests a split, sellers should respond, "I can't afford to." Then provide more information to justify why a simple split is not equitable and use this as an opportunity to explore other options.

What about the buyer? What happens in the buyer's mind when a salesperson quickly says, "OK you've got a deal," to a request to split the difference? The buyer suddenly realizes they could have done better. It was too simple. They should have asked for more.

The research proves that the best agreements come when both parties are satisfied. In this example, chances are both parties have lingering doubts about the agreement. Both think they could have done better. Neither is fully satisfied.

You have a better opportunity to reach a mutually satisfying agreement if you resist the urge to "split the difference." The first person to suggest a split immediately establishes a benchmark which the other person, even if they think the split is reasonable, should resist accepting. Take more time - remember the value of time and effort. Take the time to explore other options, other ways to look at the split, re-define what will be split up and what cannot be split up, see if there is a way to "expand the pie" before you start dividing up who gets what. Your time and effort in this discussion may reveal options neither party had thought of before, and open a route to a truly "both-win" agreement. Even if you end up agreeing to the originally suggested split, this extra time and effort will help raise the satisfaction level of both parties. "We got the best agreement that was available."

Happy selling and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Advance the Sale: How to Sell More in Less Time

Would you like to make every contact count?
Find out how to make even the most basic contact move you further down the sales cycle. In today's blog we're covering an article originally written by sales trainer Jim Domanski.

There are only four outcomes to any sales situation:
- a sale
- no sale
- a continuance, and..
- an advance

The first two outcomes are easy to comprehend.
But the line between continuance and advance is the line between mediocre reps and immensely successful reps. If you're interested in reducing the sales cycle, working on better qualified leads and generating more sales, pay attention.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of reps are superb at 'continuing' a sale.
A continuance is where it appears that the sale cycle is being closed but in reality, it is only being extended.
This is sometimes a tough concept for reps to understand.
Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean:
" I'll send you some product brochures in the mail "
" I will give you a call sometime next week to discuss the proposal "
" Give the sample a try and we'll review it later on "
" I'll fax you the material and we'll go over it "
" Let's meet sometime next month and we'll assess your need then "

On the surface, these statements would suggest that the sale is moving forward.
Not so. Did you notice the two common denominators?
There is no firm commitment on behalf of the prospect or customer to take specific action.
There is no firm follow up date.
Some sales will, of course, occur but if you are interested in getting more sales in less time, and if you would like to disqualify those clients who are not actually interested in your product or service, then you must learn to 'advance' the sale.

Advance: The advance differs from a continuance in that it gets the client to take a specific action within a given time frame.
Here's how the above examples would look/sound like with an advance:

I'll send you a product brochure on Nite-White in the mail and what I would like to recommend is that we review these together next Thursday. How does 10:15 look to you?

I'll give you a call next week to discuss the MEA proposal. Suppose we schedule Wednesday at 2:20?

I'll be glad to provide you with an Atrium sample. Specifically when will you use it? What is the criteria for evaluation? What I would like to recommend is that we set up an appointment for Friday, at 8:30 a.m. to review your evaluation. How does that sound?

I'll fax over the material right now. Can you review them so that we go over documents together in about 45 minutes?Let's set up an appointment for next month, say the 15th, at 2:45. At that time we can reassess your situation. Is that date okay with you?

Do you see the difference?
Each example suggests a specific action that must or should be taken by the client.
This creates active participation from the client which moves the sale further through the cycle. Next, each example has a specific time frame for the accomplishment of the action which creates commitment. This is a powerful one-two sales punch. If...If the client will NOT commit to any action or follow up, it suggests that perhaps their interest is not particularly strong at this point in time. If the client will NOT commit to the action, then withdraw the advance.

For example:
Mrs. Huxtable, I get the impression that perhaps now is not the best time to send the literature. If it is not possible to set up a review date, perhaps it would be best if we waited and I call you at a later date.

It takes guts to do this but what it really does is allow you to focus only on genuine sales opportunities. By qualifying your opportinities on timing in addition to revenue potential, you prevent yourself from wasting time 'watering dead plants'.

Happy selling!