Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stop Trying to Close

Stop Trying to Close and Enjoy the Ride
Instead of giving clients the hard sell, just be helpful.
By Charles H. Green November 18, 2009

"Always be closing" was the mantra among the unscrupulous salesmen in the David Mamet play-turned-movie Glengarry Glen Ross. The simplicity of that maxim has made it popular at
sales seminars across the country, but is it effective?
This strategy, like the dozens of other techniques aimed at "closing the deal," boils down to the same simple idea: Run the agenda and get the customer to do what you want them to do--namely, buy from you.
Let me say something obvious yet radical, too:
The best way to close sales is to stop trying to close sales.
First, hardly anyone likes being conned, hustled, tricked, slick-talked or manipulated into doing something--even if it is good for them.
Second, even if you are selling me something that's good for me, and attempting to convince me by telling me the reasons why it’s good for me, I can still be suspicious of your motives. If I think you're in it mainly for yourself, and not for me, then how am I going to tell the difference between something that's good for both of us, and something that is just good for you? How can you be trusted?
And the way most salespeople think--they can’t be trusted!The most effective sales "strategy" is to actually be trustworthy. That means, among other things, that the seller must have as his or her goal, meeting the customer's needs. That's it.
That includes not closing the sale and--I’m not kidding--actually being willing to recommend a competitor's product if that were truly the right thing to do for the customer.Think about it--if you're never able to even consider recommending a competitor's product over your own, how can I ever trust your recommendations? They would always be, based on your very actions, selfishly motivated.
If you think this is crazy, hold on. What do you do when you run across someone whose sole motivation is to help you? Perhaps it's a non-commissioned customer-focused store clerk, or an accountant who freely gives tax advice to you at a holiday party.The answer is, if we need what they're selling, we buy.
We buy from those we trust way more than from those we don't trust, if given a choice. We buy because we trust they actually have our interests at heart.This you can bet on. You don’t have to close every deal. If they're going to buy, they'll buy without you forcing them. If they don't buy, it'll be because your proposition--whatever it is--isn't what they need right now.
Your job is to help them figure out what it is they need, and when and how and from where they can get it.Your job is not to close them. Your job is to help them close themselves.If you help more people do that, more people will buy from you. More will come back and buy from you again. And more still will be impressed enough to tell others to buy from you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

15 lines of fame (in Dutch)

In the past year, yours truly has appeared on print (as opposed to Warhol's predicted 15 mins of fame for everyone in the world) in two Dutch magazines - Management Team and Computable.

I'm certainly not claiming world-fame by any means since only few people have told me that they had read the articles, but thought I'd post them here anyway.


Management Team!.html

Friday, September 25, 2009

Smarter Selling: tips for today

[Written by Keith Rosen, recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the five most influential executive coaches]

What skills are needed in order to be successful today?

About 25 years ago, I read my first book on selling. It was, The Secrets of Closing the Sale. Like many sales and business professionals, this was the first book that I was ever exposed to which focused on the subject and the art of selling. 25 years later, this past June, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down and meeting one to one with the master of selling and personal development, Zig Ziglar.

So, what impact did Zig leave on me that I have taken to heart? What profound, new and valuable message was I able to walk away with from my meeting with this highly acclaimed guru and though leader?

I was fortunate to gain the perspective of such a worldly man grounded in the values that matter. You would even think that it would be a bit of a challenge to retain all of the gems Zig shared with me. Conversely it wasn't. It was surprisingly, yet reassuringly very simple. You see, the ultimate epiphany I had, the priceless message that Zig delivered, was grounded in the core principles that are and have always been right in front of us.

Zig reinforced what really mattered most; the basics. Yes, that's right. The basics that we so often gloss over, neglect, take for granted and assume we already have in place. The very basics that are paradoxically, still the undeniable and timeless secret to success and designing a life worth living.

The basics of truth, being your word, living a life of integrity, honoring your core values and your commitments, honesty, family, faith in yourself and helping your fellow man and woman selflessly and graciously. Yes, the basics that our society seems to have an unyielding tendency to put aside and dismiss in search of the latest and greatest, the next Big Thing or the flavor of the month. We have fooled ourselves into thinking there is some other secret out there that would help us get what we want most and propel us to where we want to be, both in our home life and at our work life.

Before you can become a remarkable salesperson and exude that presence and confidence of someone who our customers want to do business with, we first need to become a remarkable person.

What are your tips for a tough economy?

I've decided (and many of my clients are on board with this as well) that it's no longer as tough as it was out there. That's right. Strip away what you hear in the media, and look objectively at what you can control; this one telltale sign that something in your selling formula needs to be developed, modified or redefined:

If there are people in your organization, even in your industry or profession who are currently performing like rock stars, that should provide you with one very critical insight. That is, it can be done because it is currently being done by someone else!

Here's a very clear insight into one example of some general statistical information about the selling profession that will help you begin the process of fine tuning and developing your own data driven solution to increasing your sales.

  • 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts.

Now, get this:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
  • But 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

Now, these numbers may change depending upon your selling cycle, geographic location, the dollar amount of your deliverable, target audience as well as the service or product you're selling but the essence of this message still remains in tact. That is, do you have your own set of data available, which you have used as the cornerstone to constructing your prospecting and selling strategy? If not, it's the same as getting into your car and saying to yourself before embarking on a trip, Okay, I need to get to a specific destination, but I'm not exactly sure which direction to travel nor how long it's going to take me to get there.

After all, the greatest rainmakers realize the importance of checking the weather first so they know where the best locations are to make it rain, and have the tools to do so.

What does the future hold for salespeople?

The salesperson of tomorrow will continue to evolve beyond their traditional role and become more embedded into their customer's business and the decisions that affect every facet of their operation. The true sales professional will be relied upon as a valuable resource and a trusted, consultative adviser throughout the entire selling process; and beyond.

This doesn't mean focusing solely on relationship selling because those salespeople who are doing so are the ones who are struggling today. Great relationships don't always equate to more sales. While additional time must be spent fostering stronger relationships with key clients, this isn't about calling them just to 'check in' but having a more strategic set of timely questions that will help you better understand how the current economic climate has affected the way they do business and make purchasing decisions.

This will help us accurately connect to what the true meaning of value is to our customers, as opposed to what we generically assume it to be and as such, enable us to deliver on this at a much deeper, more significant level. We need to take a closer and more holistic look at ourselves from the inside out while challenging our customers, the media and status quo. Therein lies the opportunity to elevate yourself and become the champion you know you can be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's all about me..

It’s all about me
By Dick Olenych, Inside Business - Hampton Roads - 5/20/2008
[Some text edited by S. Derksen]

I’m an average Joe. No better or worse than you.

I will tell you though I’ve had a pretty…uh…interesting life. And it has given me a different view of the world then most people. And because of all of that I believe…it’s all about me.
It’s my philosophy. And it’s a philosophy that has created an environment of exceptional customer service.

Will you please give me a just a couple of sentences to make this point a bit clearer?
When I was little my parents fought a lot. We moved around from house to house, sometimes with the police not too far behind. I know a couple of times when it was just Mom and us we had to go on welfare. Other times it was just plain crazy with lots of screaming and yelling.
My parents eventually divorced and things started to get normal. That didn’t last too long because it was interrupted when my dad died. I was a sophomore in high school and we had to move yet again to another state, closer to my aunts and uncles. About a year later my mom withered away from cancer.

By my senior year in high school I was on my own. I lived in an apartment we called “The Toe”. It was short for the ghetto and it lived down to its name. It was a dump. But, remember it’s all about me.

I went to a very good college though, as a minority. I dated the Vice President of the United State’s daughter while I was there. She was nice. College was pretty crazy. I was totally out of control. I made tons of friends, though. My family still vacations with some of those friends every year.

There’s a lot of world out there and I’ve seen some of it. I’ve lived with the Samburu warriors of East Africa. They are very genuine. I have also lived in a tent in Alaska. At one time I even had a job bartending on top of Vail Mountain. Remember, it’s all about me.
I now live in a modest home…on the water. I even have a dock and a Jet Ski. I built the dock myself. I like to build things that last.

I really have a great life. I truly appreciate everything that I have. My family is wonderful. I have great kids and a beautiful loving wife of twenty-two years. She sometimes calls me Jim.
She recently battled breast cancer. It ripped my heart out to see her suffer. That is what it is because remember, it’s all about ME.

Ladies and gentlemen, life is sometimes tough. At other times it’s very generous.
We must not let the pain of our past or the fear of the future distract us from positively effecting the people around us. We owe it to ourselves, and to our organizations to attack the day without shouldering our personal burdens. I personally, know that this can sometimes be very difficult.
Please remember. That we also must not allow the tapestry of success insulate us from our moral obligation to our organizations, our people, our customers. I am no better than the man shining shoes or the roofer swinging a hammer.

In the early morning hours before daylight as I’m listening to my bride’s breathing I decide who I will be. While I remember my history I do not let it cloud the bright hopes of a new day. I also realize that my comforts do not segregate me from the compassion that others need. Everyday I decide who I will be and how I will affect those around me. Because it is, “all about me.”

As individuals we must be strong and diligent in our support of our loved ones. Yes we also have to keep both eyes on personal finance especially in tough times. But greed will never consume me.

It’s not easy balancing compassion with strength, consideration with personal goals or empathy with pressure to perform. But we must. It is our duty - yeah, I like that word. It is our duty to others, to think of them first.

Remember we have a choice every day of who we are going to be and I choose to believe it’s all about…

Making the RIGHT decisions. Every day.

Dick Olenych is the author of Joe Sails and an owner of Spectrum Printing. He can be reached at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Work/life balance. Goals, dreams and expectations.

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have posted a blog.
I have been very busy traveling between Europe and the USA lately and just didn't find time to get it done. It was hard to combine the me with the professional me.
It turns out that that is exactly what I'm writing this blog about (but perhaps in a more philosophical context):


Work life en social life.

Finding a way to connect personal dreams with your professional career and your professional dreams with your social well-being.
After all, I am a partner, son, father, brother, friend, colleague, boss, professional and a whole lot with more specific characteristics. All of which are 'roles' to fulfill at full satisfaction. I'm here to meet and exceed expectations. As a person. Not just in my job.

So.... who are you? Which roles do you have?

Sounds pretty heavy perhaps, but the reality is that we all have relationships, professional or personal, in which the 'other party' has an expectation. Over years, those expectations partly build your image and identity to the outside world. They become you, so to speak. Because they reflect your goals and dreams and your ability to achieve those in the minds of the people you are connected with. Often we know relatively well what we want, but have you ever asked yourself what others may be expecting from you?

Perhaps a long prelude, but here's where I wanted to get into the work/life balance:

The me-athlete and the corporate athlete need to be in sync with your environment.
If your milestones and achievements as a social and professional individual are connected with the expectations that others may have from you, you will be more successful in both your relationships and your career.'s important to find out what standards to maintain, what expectations to meet or exceed.

Both as a professional as well as a private individual.
The goals and dreams that previous blog posts described, are goals and dreams that should be united for everyone as a person. Not just as a professional.
Be a successful individual, rather than a successful professional with a miserable social life.
Or a relatively happy individual with a pretty mediocre career (if you want a career that is).

Think about what you'd like to achieve both as a professional and an individual. As a person.
Ask your friends, your family, your partner what they expect from you. Long term. Not just today. Reward yourself for attaining goals. Set milestones for you as a friend, partner, father, son, brother etc as well as setting milestones in your career.

New concept to you?

Yes, probably to some. Most people plan their careers pretty extensively.
But have you thought about what you mean to others outside of work?
What can you do to mean more to them? Does your circle of 'friends and family' include people that are destructive to you or your dreams? Should you make decisions about who really is your friend and who isn't or shouldn't be? Do you have friends that are really important to you, but you haven't really told them lately? Is your partner expecting things from you that you may not be aware of or may not be willing to fulfill? Did you tell him/her that?

Starting with the end of the road in sight (see previous post) really means starting with you as a person and including everything you do in life and what you mean to others as an individual over the long haul.

Start asking those questions. Write your own expectations.
Commit to next steps and hold yourself accountable for them.
Write a letter to yourself, give it to a good friend and ask that friend to mail it to you exactly one year from today.

After review - did you live by your own rules?
Did you find a balance between you as a professional and you as an individual?
Did you improve or deepen your relationships?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The View from the End of the Road

Sociologist Anthony Compolo tells of a study in which 50 people, over the age of 95 were asked one question . . .

"If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?"

Three themes quickly emerged:
1) Reflect more
2) Risk more
3) Do more things that would live on after I die

Let's take a quick look at each of these areas:

Reflect more:
A good place to start is Stephen Covey's "7 habits of highly effective people".
In Chapter 2, Covey encourages people to think of what they would want other people to say at their own funeral. The exercise is meant to formulate your goals with the end result in mind.
I am going to warn you up front that this exercise may be difficult and emotionally challenging. I will also promise you that it will get you back on track with purpose and direction!

Risk more:
Les Brown tells us to "Leap and grow your wings on the way down"
Towards the end of George Bernhard Shaw's life, he was asked if he could be born again, and come back as anyone throughout history, who would he choose. Without blinking an eye, he responded "I would like to be born as the man I never was"

Perhaps today is the day we celebrate the birth of the person we never were? Is there one action we could take, right here, right now to welcome that new born into our lives?

Do more things that would live on after I die:
There are a lot of ways to attack this one. This could be anything from building your personal wealth so it can be left to your family or favorite charity to something as simple as encouragement.

Can encouragement live on after we die?
There is a story about two famous authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis and how the two authors would encourage each other. There are many who believe that had they not encouraged each other the world may not have The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

The bottom line: Think about what you want to achieve and DO IT!

(text excerpt from Paul Castain's Sales Playbook blog)

Friday, July 10, 2009

5 Serious Sales Mistakes Made by Many

In today’s environment, reaching your target audience and key decision makers is more difficult than ever. Whether you are in a corporate sales position, involved in internet or retail sales or simply just pitching a solution or idea to a colleague, chances are you are making some critical mistakes that are resulting in you not reaching your goal – the sale!

There are dozen obstacles in your way – busy schedules, limited budgets, gatekeepers and communication breakdown. So how do you overcome these obstacles and engage your customer to take action? You have a small window of opportunity to entice your prospective customers to want do business with you and with your company. You must improve your skills and work through a process that delivers the optimal results. However, in order to do this, you must avoid 5 common and costly mistakes many people make while selling.

Mistake # 1: Allowing Customers to Lead the Sales Process
The customer is always right has been burned into our brains since the moment you enter into business so it is a natural action to follow the customers lead and allow them to dictate the steps of the process but before you know it, your meeting has been high jacked and every aspect controlled by your prospect.

You need to own the sales process and be in complete control of every aspect while allowing you customer to feel they are still in control. The best way is to ask quality questions that uncover specific issues, concerns or initiatives that your customers are faced with and bring them back to a similar situation where you supplied the answer and make the emotional connection that your solution was the answer. You will immediately position yourself as an expert and gain instant credibility.
Once you have this emotional connection, you can easily guide them through your process, educating them along the way as to the next steps and what they can expect. This will move you closer to your sale and when done correctly, will keep you in complete control.

Mistake #2: Focusing To Much on “The Pitch”
Many sales people feel compelled to share all the information they can with a prospective customer during the first interaction –a meeting, a sales page or a marketing message. They arm themselves with the company presentation booklets and head out to make a typical canned sales pitch.

It looks something like this:
•“Introduction to Company”
•“Products & Services”
•“Client List”
•“Key Differentiators (you know the ones – quality service, market leader, one stop shop, strategic partnerships, etc.)”
•“ Process Overview”
•and finally “Questions”.

This may be the only opportunity you have so don’t waste precious time on the “company pitch”, focus on engaging your audience and demonstrating you understand their needs and the issue at hand. Audiences need to be engaged and be part of the process early on so organize your sales discussion in a way that provokes interest in you and your company.
Treat each sales call, presentation and message as an opportunity to personalize the conversation between you and your prospect. Demonstrate a genuine interest in their problems and bring forward your solution and why your solution is the right decision for them. Stay away from generic buzz words that do not really tell the customer anything about your product and/or service and customize a discussion based upon the customer and not your company.

Mistake # 3: Selling the Features of a Product vs. the Emotional Connection
You should never focus your sales message to selling a specific product – even if that is the end goal. You are selling a result, a benefit, an experience or in other words, an emotional connection. All products are a dime a dozen even if you have the fanciest widget on the block.
Your customer will buy based upon a perceived emotion and where many sales people fail is to use emotion as an effective selling tool for closing the sale.

For example, if you are selling fractional shares of a luxury jet to the super affluent, you could focus on engine power, wind speed, and all the mechanical items that go into flying a plane, or you could focus on the status, the experience and luxury of time and create an emotional response that motivates your customer to buy. Connect with your prospect and show them how this purchase will empower them.

Mistake # 4: Not Focusing on the Specific Business Challenges
Over 90% of sales meeting are held with individuals who are satisfied with the status quo for a variety of reasons. They may be too busy, they may have existing relationships or the thought of making a change is an unbelievable undertaken that they would rather stay right where they are then even think about it. Regardless, if you do not switch the focus of your meeting to address these constraints and what it means to the individuals involved, you are making a serious selling mistake that may delay your process or end it right there.

Decisions are made by people and most people are tuned into their own radio stations WIIFM (Whats in it for me). You need to do your research and understand your prospect’s business, limitations and current situation. How will he or she be impacted? What is important for them to reach their goals? Is there a specific business challenge or issue they are faced with? And lastly, can what you are offering solve their problem and cause the least pain along the way.

Mistake # 5: Neglecting To Ask For the Sale
Many people who are selling are concerned with coming across too pushy and often look for ways for a sale to happen “naturally” so they neglect to ask for the sale. They present their ideas and solutions and lose control of the entire process at the end of the meeting and never restate what they really want – the sale. There are many ways to ask for the sale in a non-threatening, confident way where people will usually respond in a favorable manner.

It is okay to ask “what do I have to do to win the mandate for your business” and if you have demonstrated to ask for the business. In the event you do not win the business, don’t be afraid to ask for second best. Perhaps there is a second tier piece of business out there and unless you ask, the answer will always be no.

©Kellie D’Andrea & Associates

Kellie D’Andrea is the creator of the BLAST system and publishes “The Marketing Edge” a FREE award winning ezine for small business owners who want to gain the competitive edge with strategic marketing and branding techniques that actually work.

Find out the 23 Common Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs make with a FREE report offered at

Friday, June 19, 2009

A prospect's needs may not be found at the surface

Salesman Nicola d'Amato sent the following excerpt from to me and I thought it was appropriate to share with you:

" It's a wonderful feeling when you ask a prospect a question,
and he tells you about a problem he has that you can fix.

It's like having a woman you love tell you that she needs
someone like you.

It's a great feeling cause your prospect does need you when
he tells you that. And when a prospect tells you that he needs something like
what you got, he's exposed himself and made himself a bit
Which is why the average sales person doesn't hear such
needs so easily. Instead prospects tell you either that they don't need
anything, or they tell you exactly what they think they need
to solve their problem.

Either way they are protecting themselves.
If they say they don't need anything that may be true. Or it
may be that they don't know that they have a problem,
because they don't know that there is a better way to do
things than what they are doing now.

Think about it. Every innovation creates a gap that new
things can be sold into. But before such sales can happen,
prospects have to become aware that there is a new and
better way, that there is a gap.
And once there is a new and better way, many people will
want that, and hence will have a "problem" that can be

Other times prospects protect themselves by telling you
exactly what they want (or think they need) to solve their
problem. This usually causes us difficulty as sellers though
cause the prospect typically figures out his solution by
looking at other products to determine what the
possibilities are. And if your product is not the main one
he looks at, then you are in for an uphill battle.

Most prospects, men in particular, would rather speak
to you the seller as if they are in control and you are not.
You see most people's experience with sales people is not
good. Yours and mine included.
Most people think of sales people as poorly educated, not
that bright, and aggressive. So people put up their defenses
to protect against the idea that you are going to attack
them and try to get you to do something you don't want to

This is not to your benefit however.
No. You need to be in control of the sale.
There is good news however.
Control over the sale does not have to be a battle between
you and the prospect.
You can respectfully take control of the sale by telling
your prospect what you are going to do.
You simply tell your prospect at the beginning of every
sales call what's going to happen, and 99% of the time he
will agree to it.

Tell him that you are going to start out by asking him
questions, and that after you get through asking enough
questions to understand his situation that you will answer
his questions for example. Your prospect will be relieved
that you are smart and respectful and that he doesn't have
to be in control.

When you run your sales calls this way, you will then have
the chance to probe and hear about the real true nature of
the prospect's problem, instead of his already thought
through and biased-against-you solution.
And you will experience that wonderful feeling of hearing
prospects tell you they need something just like what you
are selling. "

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recession-proof sales

The papers are doom and gloom.
But is that really what we are facing?

Aren't we also seeing a shake-out at the competition?
An opportunity to show solidity with our clients, and a golden chance to proof that we are of great value to them?

Decision-making is often budget related. Many of today's decisions around a certain mark, are higher up the 'food chain' then they were a year ago.
In other words: if the IT manager was making $ 50,000 budget decisions, perhaps the same decision now lies at the CTO's desk.

We have an opportunity in front of us to make an entry at the C-level. Decision making with a capital 'D'.

Sure, some budgets are frozen, and projects delayed.
But what if we get in the door with the C-level officer, and that finally allows us to present ourselves company-wide?
If ever there was a chance to speak with large enterprises throughout, while using the momentum to be accessing at all levels and areas of that enterprise, it would be now.

If we proof ourselves in these times and that C-level officer learns that we are a reliable supplier, a partner really, that adds value, brings creativity and ideas to the table, shows no letting down - then we may have just banked on an opportunity for years to come.

There are some requirements here - not rocket science by any means, but important nonetheless:

1) Be prepared.
If you take some time to think where you could in fact add significant value to your prospect, you should use those arguments as your entry.

2) Ask the right questions.
Don't assume you know everything going in. Ask how your prospect is doing, and what 'pain' they are feeling. Discuss how there could be a fit - but it must be genuine.

3) Adjust your language, positioning and approach to the person you speak with. If a C-level officer is your connecting person then make sure to talk his/her talk. Do not simply rely on your previous pitch. It may just not apply today.

4) Go out and conquer the world.
With a market declining, chances are that you will also be facing a decline in your sales revenues if you sit still. Remember how you built a book of business when you just entered the trade? Well, as senior as you may be today, you will have to re-build your account base and pick up the phone again. Imagine how much more effective and efficient you are today, knowing what you know about your market and products, with all the experience you have.
You should be excited that this time prompts you to actually be selling again!

5) Be open and look for opportunities.
Read the papers, use newsfeeds as your entry. The market is changing. Those dynamics may mean that your thought about a certain prospect should be seen in new light. It may mean that the tough purchaser that you could not get around is no longer there, and the new guy is a great socializer. It may mean that existing vendor relationships have changed southward, and allows for new openings.

It may mean that a new policy is in place, where the new directive says that every quote must be compared to quotes from two other vendors. That other vendor could be you - your shot at getting in!

Changing times - trading places - this is your shot at (re) building your book of business to astronomical heights.

Good luck everyone - happy selling!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The customer decision process

We may know a lot about selling, but what do we know about buying?

Some insight into the customer's mind when facing a buying decision, in three phases:

1) Recognition of Needs
If you are completely satisfied with your present network, there is no decision to be made. The decision process begins when you are no longer satisfied with the status quo. Perhaps it is because certain products are getting old and you are fearful of them becoming unreliable, or perhaps they are no longer advanced enough to keep up with the demands of the business, etc.
a) Someone in the organization has a problem that needs to be solved, and it can't be done with the existing product/equipment
b) There is dissatisfaction with existing equipment (in the present, or future expected dissatisfaction due to functionality or performance-related issues)
When dissatisfaction reaches a sufficient amount of intensity or urgency, a decision will be made. So make sure the dissatisfaction reaches critical mass.

2) Evaluation of Options
a) What are my options?
b) What criteria should I use to evaluate my options?
c) How do I choose between competing models?
d) How do I choose between different vendors?
e) Who should I involve internally to help me make the decision?

3) Resolution of concerns
a) How do I make sure I'm not making a bad decision?
b) How do I justify the purchase this equipment to my boss?
c) What is the consequence if this does not work out?
d) Is the service really as good as they say?
e) Are the products really all as good as they say?
f) How does maintenance/support work
g) Is it worth my time to dig into the offering, rather than simply purchasing from the established vendor?


4) Implementation
Often forgotten once the sale is closed, but the implementation part may either prove your service level or uncover additional needs (for more products, accessories etc, most of which is often quoted in the process, but sometimes a customer finds out they need something more or different to make it whole).

At a glance:
When you are cold calling, you are stepping in at a 'random' moment in the professional life of your prospect.

Your prospects may find themselves in different stages of the decision making process, and it is your job to find out where they are in the process or to start the process.

I understand that this is no news to most of you in the grand scheme of things, but what may be helpful for you is to consider that the phases should typically be addressed in sequence. Going over concerns while you're still uncovering needs may confuse your prospect more than you'd want.

If you come in at the second stage (evaluation of options) because you've received a lead from marketing, and you find out there are two competitors, you would want to distinguish yourself from the competition, by going over the decision criteria and possibly noting some or adding some that make you look more favorable. (Try to find out which criteria weigh more heavily than others. They are not all equal in the mind of the buyer. The same is true for concerns.)

In the next phase, addressing the concerns, you can set yourself further apart from the competition, and ease the mind of the buyer to go with you and defend his decision internally.

On a similar note, many people try to start a meeting with a presentation.
However, in the Recognition of Needs phase, it is better to hold back on product discussions and presentations, and to ask questions to uncover the needs.
(This is the part where you ask open-ended questions, and 'find the pain')

In fact, some questions do not only articulate dissatisfaction, they may actually intensify the dissatisfaction.
Example of question sequence:
Have you ever had an order delayed from your current vendor, with only 3 days notice prior to expected date while having to deal with a 10 week lead time to begin with? [yes]
- Did that cause additional problems for your project planning? [yes]
- How did you solve this? [...]

Need-uncovering question sequences will help you move to the next phase (in which a presentation could be very appropriate), while funneling the needs into categories (quality, reliability, price, delivery, service, warranty etc) where you can address them one by one.

Last, but not least, use your intuition to discover potential issues.
If your customer seems hesitant to you, but isn't raising a concern, it doesn't mean there is none. He may just be reluctant to share them.
He may not want to hurt your feelings, or dismiss your professional qualifications, either personal or for your company as a whole.

Building trust earlier in the conversation, therefore, is an important factor to make sure you're not overlooking uncovered concerns that may withhold the prospect from doing business with us.

Ask your customer to be honest and open about his concerns, and tell him you genuinely want to know - to make sure that he has the appropriate info to make the right buying decision.
You should also realize that we can not always have a perfect score on every aspect. Others may have more imperfections than you, so it doesn't always mean that when a concern is raised you will not get the deal.

Better to openly discuss the concerns than to leave them under the surface.

Happy selling!

P.S. The above is a short insight (my interpretation of it at least) after reading Neil Rackham's book Major Account Sales Strategy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Consultative selling

On Salesblogcast - someone asked the question:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of consultative selling?

Here's my answer to the question on the blog:

Everyone in sales recognizes that one customer isn't the same as the other.And anyone in sales management will recognize that one salesman isn't the same as the other.
Some salesmen tend to ask more questions and others tend to want to make it a quick and smooth transaction for the customer.

The term consultative selling, I believe, is a result from sales managers and/or trainers trying to typecast a certain method of selling. In organizations where the top 20% performers all seem to be the type that asks more questions - salesmanagers would typically like to extend that method to the lower performers, by tweaking their approach and calling the preferred approach a name. Could have been 'question'-selling.

With that said - listening to the customer, and asking the right qualifying questions applies to any sale, regardless of the 'method' used.Although I like using a conceptual form to continue to think about its plusses or minuses and to add thought to matter, it often occurs to me that the sales profession is regarded as slick and smooth and people like to give it an intellectual touch by making it a semi-consulting job. It is not really.

You're just trying to close the deal - whatever it takes.Consulting means you're being paid by the hour, because you're offering skill, experience or insight (a combination likely) to your customer. Salesmen are paid to close deals.

Staying in touch with your customer is very natural for most salesmen. Asking the right questions sometimes is less natural - especially for the talkers.

Bringing 'consultative selling' back to its basics to me is no more than figuring out how you could best match your offering with the clients, so that
1) he ends up buying your product/service, and
2) you sound like someone that is genuinely trying to help, even though you're a salesman ;-)

To answer the question:
S: The emphasis on asking good (qualifying) questions
W: The tendency to over-complicate/over-intellectualize the job. The deal will still need to be closed, no matter how well you find the answers to your questions.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Being in the driver's seat

Do you often think:
"Why is this happening to me?"
"If I was in his territory it would be much easier for me"
"If I had started at the same time, I would have been doing the same numbers now"
"That was an easy deal, I would do the same numbers if I had customers like that"
"The system slows me down, that's why my business is slower - I can't make enough calls"
"All the big companies are taken already"

And are you honest to yourself when you keep saying this when your numbers are low?
Are you still saying this to yourself when people that are realistically in the same boat, as they have started at the same time, are beating you on the rankings?

If that's the case, you need to take a hard look at yourself.

Because if you are really honest, you know that you are not making enough calls, or good enough calls. You know that you could prepare your call lists better, rank your customers, manage and organize your customer base, and come in earlier to start making your calls.

There are many things in life that are outside of our control. But this job is not one of them.
What separates the boys from the men is how you take on your job, your life, really.

It is how you react to your environment, how you take ownership and accountability for your actions and performance. If you're at the bottom of the list or if you are not making your dreams come true, you have to work harder, keep going, putting in more energy and discipline.

Here's a good suggestion: You don't have to invent the wheel if others around you are successful.
Look around, ask questions, find out why the people at the top are at the top.
Chances are you will find out that they have worked hard and took control of their destiny, by taking the right actions and sticking with it.

Hard work, perseverence, discipline, setting challenging goals, and doing everything you can to achieve them.

The hard part? Not doing the things that will not lead you to your goal, no matter how much fun they seem at the moment. It takes discipline to get .

You have to be healthy in body and spirit to be a corporate athlete.
You need to eat and sleep well, practise, improve, repeat practise, go through hardships, recover from injuries or defeat in order for you to win a metaphorical medal.

But the good news is: you can do it!
You just need to change your ineffective routines into an effective one.

Change today rather than tomorrow.
Pick up the phone and call 30 new prospects today, follow up on the ones that you haven't followed up with but should have. You know who they are. Internal emails aren't as important as sales. Don't kid yourself when you think that's what you need to do first. You were hired for one thing only: to produce revenue.
So that the company makes money and you make money.

Take you destiny in your own hands and get into the driver's seat.

Why not now?

Let's dial for dollars!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When deals get delayed...

This was sent to me by Nicola d'Amato - superstar salesman in the Italian market - great info to share with y'all:

Not closing a sale "on time", is almost the same as losing
that sale.

You might think...

"Hey, if I closed the sale, that's great. It doesn't
really matter if I close it this month or next, as long
as it's for the same amount."

Well the truth is a sale delayed by days, weeks, or months
costs you.

It costs you because you have to expend extra selling time
and extra selling energy to close that deal. Energy that
could've gone into working other deals in your pipeline or
into prospecting for new deals. And also it costs you because you can't instantly replace
the revenue you expected to get from that deal.

Traditional selling mentality focuses on the need to "create
a sense of urgency" with your prospect.
Sometimes this can work. But it depends on the cause of the

If the delay is something beyond your ability to influence,
then doing things like cutting your bid don't speed up your
deal. All they do is tell your prospect that you are willing
to lower your bid, and then they'll demand it later when
they are ready to close.

The better approach is to shoot for an overflowing pipeline
of deals. If you have pipeline full of high quality prospects, with a
high likelihood of making a purchase from *you*, then you
don't have to worry when a deal or two gets delayed.

Now how do you get this pipeline of high quality prospects?

Well you have to be willing to do three things.

You have to be willing to spend more time prospecting than
you probably have in the past. You're going to need to make
more calls, send more letters, emails, LinkedInmails, gifts - whatever works.

You're going to need to sharpen your message so that you get
a higher hit-rate from your communications.

And you're going to need to throw away more weak leads.

You accomplish this by prospecting for pains that you can
solve, and by filtering the hits you do get through a
rigorous qualification process.

A high prospecting activity level focused on finding pains
you can solve combined with qualifying your leads against an
ideal customer profile will result over time in a pipeline
bursting with prospects inclined to purchase from you.

You'll be much more successful fixing your sales problems by
focusing on the decision of who to spend your sales time
with instead of worrying about how to create a sense of
urgency with a poor quality prospect.

Let's dial for dollars!

Stay tuned....

No news .... no new blog?
What's going on?

Redoing the blog - and design.
That's what's going on!

Stay tuned for more....will be with you shortly

Thanks for your patience, happy selling,


Friday, January 16, 2009

Capital of capitalism: Finish Strong

A few things strike me about New York, and I thought it'd be fun to share:

It is January 2009. We are in the middle of the most severe financial crisis of the past one hundred years (!)

People are being laid off everywhere and December unemployment rates rose above 7% with 550,000 people losing their jobs in the past month. Restaurants, shops, bars, and many other businesses are struggling to keep their heads up. And yet the Americans I have spoken with are full of hope - not despair. The tone of voice used in news reports, papers, and blogs is still very positive, outside the messages stating the current facts.

I hope 2009 will be a strong year, in many ways, for everyone.
But I'd like to try and point out the reason why I think New York and America are so strong, so that we don't rely on hope, but realize that it's up to us to make it a great year.

Hope, and determination, perseverance, hard work, not expecting others to take out their wallets and provide a safetynet (although that's partly what the federal bank is doing for some of the large corps that are in trouble), are all part of American society, and have made this society the most successful sand productive nation in the world, with the highest GDP per person.

This very approach to success, and the desire and determination to be successful is what's specifically great about being in New York.

Whether there is an international economic downfall, or personal troubles such as finance issues, divorces, health issues - there is a lesson to be learned from the way people in New York deal with these times.

It strenghtens my confidence in mankind's flexibility and will to survive, but more specifically it strengthens my belief that people can make it happen if they stay positive and keep making it happen for themselves. If they keep believing in a positive outcome.

America will recover from this downfall and find yet another platform to present itself as the most productive country around the globe, because people hold themselves accountable for making that success happen.

As long as you believe that YOU are in the driver's seat to make things happen for yourself, and act upon it - you can make it happen.

If things are bad, your decisions will determine how you deal with the situation and your reaction will determine how results will be going forward.

I love the spirit shown in New York - and hope to make that part of my approach to life going forward. I have no doubt that New York will flex right back into 'success' at some point, and it will be a great experience being a personal witness.

From the inspiredlivingquotes blog:
"Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it."

How do you take it?
How will you choose to respond to the challenge before you?

The choice is yours....

Always choose to FINISH STRONG !

"Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed."

At 13 she was attacked by a shark while surfing.Within 6 months she was surfing again competitively... and WINNING... with ONE ARM. -BETHANY HAMILTON, 2004 ESPN Comeback Athlete of the Year

"When I started the company I was 52 yearsold. I had diabetes, lost my gall bladderand most of my thyroid gland. But I wasconvinved that the best was ahead of me."
-Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald's

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."-Anatole France

"My mother taught me very early to believe Icould achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first was to wals without braces."
-Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics

Nearly killed in an auto accident that crushed his legs, he would struggle to walk for the rest of his life.. But, 16 months later he would win the US Open and ultimately 5 more major championships
-Ben Hogan

"How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you becomeafter the game... whether you are a winner or loser."
-Lou Holtz

"It's not what happens to YOU, But how you react to it that matters."

Nothing changes until something moves. How wil YOU choose to respond?


Friday, January 2, 2009


1. Good health
2. Mental stamina
3. 2008 Review
4. Business Plan for 2009
5. Milestones and targets for 2009
6. Top 100 Prospect list
7. Top 100 customer list
8. Book for new professional and self insights
9. Education plan - continued
10. Reflection partner/coach
11. Self-indulging rewards assigned to milestones
12. Agenda and week schedule


Ready to Rock 'n Roll for 2009!