Monday, December 21, 2009

Calling During Christmas Week

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New Y...Image via Wikipedia

It's a personal choice whether or not you want to call Christmas week. It depends upon how much fire you have in your belly and how bad you want new deals.

Here's what I know from direct experience: you have easy access to high level executives Christmas week. The employees are taking time off or are at the office parties.

The CEO thinks "hmm, this is a great time to get things done. Maybe I should re-evaluate that system or do some research. If you call, you'll get them. If you have something interesting to promote, you'll get their attention."

I've signed some pretty lucrative deals on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve just because I was working.

I choose not to work those days anymore. I did for a long, long time though.

I'm going to choose to not work the rest of this week. Yes, it's a personal choice. You'll see a new post next week. If you're taking off, enjoy the Holiday.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughtful Persistence

It's important as you continue to follow up that you use thoughtful persistence. Don't call five times, leave a message to call you back and hang up. Instead try leaving thoughtful, valuable messages for them.

"John, since we met last, I further researched the feature you're looking for and confirm our product does X. Call me to discuss".

Or send an email that says, "80% of the clients that have joined us, discovered significant costs savings within the first two months."

Each time you call or leave a message, visualize that the prospect is happy to get this information and will use it in their decision making process, because they probably will.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Unreturned Call or Email

Here's the scenario. You met with a prospect or made a cold call. They said they were interested. They actually said "send me some info."

You did. You sent a thoughtful email and made a follow up call and then . . . 'nothing.'

Now the demons in your head are saying:

"The competition is way better than us anyway."
"Our prices are too high"
"He was just being nice. He wasn't really interested."
"If he was interested, he would call."
"He probably wasn't impressed with what I sent."
"They'll just do it in-house."

Here's what may have really happened:

"They never got the message."
"If they did get it, it got lost in a huge To Do list and a follow up call would be much appreciated."
"They received it but didn't understand it. They are not an expert in your business."
"They took some vacation."
"They were in meetings."
"They were travelling on business."

Don't quit before you even get started. The only way you'll know what is going on is to call and ask or email again. Keep following up, in a pleasant, persistent way, until you know what is going on.

Go ahead, follow up right now. If you don't your competition will.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Hit the Ground Running in 2010

In 2010 we have two choices, we can can continue to complain that the credit market has dried up or we can hit the ground running and create our own revenue.

Sure, it's easier for an entity to give your business money, it's harder to create it. Creating it gives you more power, more flexibility and I think it's more fun.

Review the basics of sales, commit to them and get to work.

Let's do it, OK?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"You Have to Know Someone"

This is a myth I hear people repeat when they are trying to make a sale or look for a job. It seems people feel outside of the connected inner circle where opportunities flow effortlessly.

I've never been inside that connected inner circle. It never occured to me that there was any easy street path to success in anything I did. I knew I wasn't going to get front door treatment on any opportunity. So I looked for side doors, back doors, hallways, ways to crawl through windows and dig tunnels. In doing so, I created some opportunties for myself.

I have not really experienced sales people getting deals out of sheer luck or connections. There is usually some hard work or strategy behind the win. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of believing there is some secret method you don't know about.

Stick to the Basics of Sales and you'll create your own connections and your own consistent success.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Compliment

One of my clients said "I'm drawn to you because you are refreshingly honest."

Wow! Made my day. I explained to him that people are so afraid that they need to say the right thing or do the right thing especially when a sale is involved that they can get removed from the truth. They are afraid they are going to mess it up. No reason to be afraid, if your transaction is built on a lie, it'll fall apart eventually any way.

Be refreshingly honest today. People will appreciate it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Check This Business Out

I met a woman at a networking event The Big Ooga who has a wardrobe consulting business. I was immediately drawn in. Appropriate, distinctive dress is a passion of mine. Seems anyone starting the workforce now where casual dress is acceptable doesn't have a clue what to do or where to start if they are trying to make a professional impression.

Check out Rachel Yeomans' website out if you're baffled about what to wear and when or would like to learn more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Old School Salesman

I met the most wonderful Salesman, Ted, at the Chicago Fur Outlet I was actually there to sell a shearling on consignment. I bought a really nice piece last year that just didn't work out for me.

Like any good sales people, Howard, the owner and Ted showed me around the store to make sure there wasn't a coat that I'd like to trade mine in for or use as a partial credit toward the purchase price.

As Ted, patiently watched me try on coat after coat, encouraging me to try different styles and lengths, he told me about his skill and experience as a retail salesman. He'd worked at the upscale stores in Chicagoland: Bloomingdales, Sax, Burberry's, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Field's. He told stories of selling dresses to brides, bathing suits and evening gowns to women and overcoats to men. He remembered his regular customers in detail. He has a passion for retail. He told stories of tailoring garments on the spot and making customers happy while protecting the profitability of the store. He talked about increasing sales of seldomly-purchased products at the perfume counter, how he'd help women select a fragrance that was right for them vs. the one that was currently being promoted.

It was an absolute pleasure spending an afternoon with Ted. He did find a perfect coat for me, a shearling, midlength with a shawl collar. It would be warm enough for the Chicago winters and casual enough to wear riding the El every day.

The coat is not in my budget today. I appreciate all the time and effort he took with me. When I didn't make a decision he responded "You are woman who knows what she wants and I appreciate that." I appreciated being appreciated.

As soon as the opportunity arises, I'll be back to visit with Howard and Ted because I know they will find the perfect coat for me. In addition to that, it was an enjoyable afternoon, a reprieve from the general hecticness of my days.

This type of retail experience is almost obsolete in the United States. Shopping has become an errand, people generally do not dress for work any more, stores are not willing to invest in quality sales people and customers are not loyal enough to those who do.

Unless we support businesses like Howard's and sales people like Ted, this type of shopping experience will be obsolete and we'll be resigned to running more errands . . .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Never Pay for a Job

I spoke with a woman who wanted to hire me to create a new business development program and learn a financial training program. They wanted to charge me $3,000.00, it was a 50% discount off of their traditional training program fee.. She assured me all national training companies do this. (This is a lie). When I told her I was reluctant to pay for the employment, her tone became harsh and she accused me of "not being serious about success."

Don't fall for this kind of stuff. Any company of any value will pay you, as the employee or contractor to produce for them. Never, ever pay for a promotional kit, business cards, materials or training. It's very profitable for the company and not good for you.

She's right, it's a big investment to select the right people for the right jobs. If they want to operate in business, they should be willing to make that investment.

Don't fall for scams.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be Ready for Your Sales Rep

When you hire a new sales rep it will take them six weeks to six months to start working on proposals. Shorten that cycle by being ready for them.

On the day they start greet them with an active phone line, business cards, email address, lap top, and a cell phone. If you don't do this, they'll be inactive on the payroll for two or three weeks until they get all set up.

You know their start date when you hire them. Use the time they transition to be prepared so they can hit the ground running on day one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There's No Magic Bullet

It takes a lot of calls to connect with buyers. When starting a sales job expect to make 100 calls, to find five people that are interested and two that are a potential fit. 100 calls a day should take about seven hours a day.

Of the two prospects that are a fit, you may have to have eight to ten points of contact with the buyers before you get to a decision, depending on the length of your sales cycle.

That's the formula. If you do it, it works. There is not magic bullet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Right Message, Wrong Audience

If your messages are falling on deaf ears, if your prospects think your price is too high or don't understand your product or service, it's very possible you're going after the wrong target.

Sharpen your focus and see what happens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feel, Felt, Found

I love sales. I especially love salespeople who invest in the process and sell with integrity.

I can always spot an old, IBM-trained salesman. They'll talk about the technique of using "Feel, Felt, Found".

Feel, Felt, Found is a memory trick to help handle objections that must've been taught at the impressive IBM sales training programs back in the day.

Here's how it works. The words Feel, Felt, Found are used to handle any objection.

Let's take my favorite, 'the price is too high.'

"Now Jack, based on all we've discussed to this point, I understand you feel the price is too high."

Jack, I can understand why you feel that way. Many of my long-standing customers once felt that way too.

After they used our systmes and analyzed the cost savings this is what they found . . .

Feel, Felt, Found. Isn't it a fun way to remember how to handle objections?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sense of Urgency

To sell a product or service, it's critical to understand the prospects sense of urgency. Their urgency can be classified in three broad general terms: Even Keel, Trouble, and Growth.

A prospect will make a decision if their business is in trouble or growth mode. For example if you sell computer services and their system crashed, they will make a decision. It may or may not be with your firm, but they are going to buy something. If they are in growth mode, and will hire 20 new employees, again they will make a decision. They will need 20 new PCs on their new employees desks.

Even Keel is the toughest position to sell to. If they are Even Keel their system is functioning well enough, there is no pain, there is no reason to reach for something more or better. They actually may perceive risk to changing. All seems to be working well for them. Unless you can create a sense of urgency or cast a shadow of doubt over their current system, the Even Keel buyer is not likely to make a move.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Tone of Your Voice

When you are making calls, the prospects and customers only have the tone of your voice to go by. They don't have your appearance, your dress, eye contact or smiling face to connect with. Your voice has to carry it alone.

To make the most of it, speak slowly. Smile when you pick up the phone, the prospect will hear it on the other end. Visualize that the call will go positively and the outcome will be successful. Connect with the prospect, use their name in conversation. Be your genuine self, don't sound scripted. Listen and respond appropriately. Speak normally. Time is valuable, make sure the call is worth their while.

Tape record your calls so you can really listen to how you sound. Do you use 'um, uhh, or other fillers? Do you lack self-confidence or enthusiasm? Are your words enunciated well? Do you use slang?

Do you sound like someone that you'd like to talk to? People make the decision within the first 20 seconds of the call, whether or not they will let you continue. Make sure you earn it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's a Bit of a Dance

The sales process is a bit of a dance. It's true of all sales but most evident with a long, complex sales cycle and a high ticket price. The sales person has to remember to bring up the right information at the right time, to know when it's time to listen and when it's time to speak, when to acquiesce and when to be forceful, often with several people that have different world views and objectives.

When it's done well, like a well-choreographed dance, it looks effortless.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make Sure You Get Something in Return

Many sales people are not skilled at negotiating price. Personally, I love to do it. The negotiation is the culmination of the sale. By this point you should have spent a lot of time listening to your prospect, understanding what they value so that you can match the appropriate product or service feature to what they value. In my opinion, this is where the fun begins.

Some prospects will ask you for a discount. If you have listened carefully and built a strong connection throughout the sales process do not be intimidated by this request and definitely don't drop your price without thoughtful negotiation. If you do choose to discount your price, make the prospect commits to a volume level or a length of time. For example, "sure if you order 10,000 and we can be guaranteed a renewal order next year, I can work with you on the rate."

Do not give a price concession, without getting something from the prospect in return. If you give the product or service away, without eliminating features or changing terms, you will diminish the value you've worked so hard to build.

Here's the key - make sure you document the terms. "We agreed to a volume discount for 10,000 units and a two year term." Make sure the prospect commits to this verbally. Reiterate that you both understand and you both agree to the terms.

If at the time of order, your firm receives a 5,000 unit order make sure to revert back to the original pricing agreement. Do not discount if the prospect does not commit to their end of the bargain. You should be building partnerships with your customers. As partners, require that they live up to their end of the deal. They'll respect you for it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Supporting Charities

A prospect asked me if it was a good idea to give a 5% donation from the purchase price of her product to a charity for each product she sold. My response is "most companies don't have that much margin to give away."

Turns out she doesn't either. Then you are faced with which charitable organizaton to choose. There are so many worthy organizations to choose from and whichever one you do choose will be a refelction on your company and it's values.

I think it's a really noble idea. I do some service work myself and I really enjoy it.

My suggestion was to have the consumer add a dollar to their purchase price and select the organization of their choice. That way she can still facilitate giving and not affect her profit margins.

Close Ratio & Acquisition Costs

I have procured my first renter from my Chicago Reader ad. I received five inquiries from the ad. Two of the five were interested in renting my apartment. I selected one renter. The close ratio of the Chicago Reader ad is 20%.

The acquisition cost of the one renter is $671.00. I ran the Reader ad for 3 weeks at a cost of $57.00 per week. The renters asked for $100 a month off of the rent. It's a competitive market and there are less expensive places out there.

After pointing out all the selling advantages, I offered a one month $500.00 concession. The renters were thrilled and I am thrilled. I did not have to lower my base rental rate. The cost of the ad $171 + the $500 concession = $671.00 per acquisition.

Many sales people and organizations want to take short cuts. They ask "how much will it cost to get a new customer?" I don't know until we go through this process. There's a lot of thoughtful testing that goes on.

Rather than work the process, some like to fill their pipelines with activity. It feels like you're working hard and are productive. I won't argue with the working hard part but it's not productive.

To me, it feels a bit like a panting dog running around chasing it's tail. I prefer a more thoughtful, targeted approach. We now know from this analysis that the Chicago Reader is an effective medium for procuring renters and well worth the investment. Some of the other channels are worth exploring: a realtor, a rental agency and thoughtful use of Craigslist. Hanging flyers was a waste of time. I'd probably still do it in the future but I won't spend a ton of time on it.

I'll continue placing thoughtful ads in the Reader, for sure.

Monday, November 9, 2009


When you are addressing your prospect, make sure to get their name right. If you're speaking the name make sure to pronounce it correctly. If it's an unusual name, ask for clarification. Your prospect will be grateful that you did. They are used to having their unusual name mispronounced and it may be frustrating to them.

If you're composing an email, double check to make sure you got the spelling right. If you mispell their name, it shows you don't pay attention to detail.

When you're on the phone, remember to say their name at least three times. It feels awkward to you but sounds very reassuring to them.

Here's an example:

"So Gregg, I understand you like our system but are currently in a contract. Is that correct?"


"Gregg, this is my core business and I understand it very well. I'm familiar with competitors' contracts and there's always an out clause. I'd be happy to review it for you."

"I'm uncomfortable with that."

"Makes perfect sense, Gregg. I appreciate your loyalty to your vendor. Let me give you some areas to check for . . . "

Get it? Doesn't it sound so much more natural and collaborative?

Friday, November 6, 2009

That was Then, This is Now

It's true. The credit market has dried up. The banks have called in their loans and changed their terms. We all knew they had the power to do so, we just didn't think they'd every really do it. Surprise.

There's another way to bring revenue to your business, by getting new customers.

Quit complaining about the lack of financing. Get out there, create some value, and sell profitable goods and services to your customers.

If you think it can't be done, look to companies that do it successfully as a model, like Abt Appliances. Appliances and electronics are a commodity. Abt has found their competitive advantage, service, delivery, a fun experience when you go to their stores, thoughtful growth.

It can be done. Go do it. You'll create a powerful, profitable company by bringing in one new customer at a time. You won't need the banks. Won't that be fun?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Handling the Price Objection

Inexperienced sales people are easily thrown by the 'price objection'. If a prospect says 'the price is too high' they crumble and offer a cheaper rate, often at the expense of profitability. There's usually no margin to give away.

I'm working with an insurance broker now. The company he signed me up with is giving horrible service. My broker has responded with "I don't think I can get you a cheaper price." He's not listening. I didn't say I was looking for a cheaper price. I'm looking for service. With the horrible service I'm receiving, the rate actually feels quite expensive.

Many sales reps do this. They offer cheap prices, prices they believe are cheap, and never find out what their prospect values.

If you understand what your prospect values and provide service to meet those values, you'll never have to offer the cheapest price and you'll build a profitable company.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I made a phone call in response to an SEO lead for our CRM system, SalesInSync.

I was greeted with a groggy, "hullo?"

"I'm calling in response to your inquiry about our web-based CRM", I responded.

"Oh, I'm in Seattle. It's pretty early here. I haven't even had my coffee yet."

Embarrassed I said, "Oh I thought you were in Virginia, I'm pretty conscious of time zones since I do a lot of work by phone. I thought it was 9:00 a.m.".

"Nope, it's 7:00 a.m. Can I call you in a couple of hours?"

This gentleman is travelling with his VOiP phone. His area code and website indicate he's in Virginia although he can pick up his line any where in the country or even the world. I don't know how VOiP phone etiquette will evolve. Unless business people don't mind being called at any time of the day or night. If they do, they'll need to communicate in some way how they'd like to be reached.

Interesting new technology dilemma, huh?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Most people think they listen well. The truth is, listening is a skill that must be developed and worked with over time. Even when you are an adept listener you have to continue to question what you are not hearing, to learn what information is under the surface.

Most of listening is not verbal. Less than 10% of what people say is what they really mean. You need to be aware of their surroundings and their body language to truly understand their situations.

In addition, you have to listen without ego. Do not judge the information, do not answer questions for the speaker, do not finish sentences for them.

Do make sure that you are not just waiting for your turn to talk.

A great way to practice listening skills is to talk to teenagers. Try to really listen without judgement and to understand.

Here's an example.

"Hey Johnnie, what are you doing?"

Johnnie "Nothing."

(note: Johnnie is playing a video game while you ask him this question, so he's obviously not doing something. His words do not reflect his actions. As you ask the question note the tone of his voice. Is he saying 'nothing' to get rid of you or curious to see if you'll ask more questions to find out what is really going on with him? It's critical here not to get angry or frustrated and to be open to his answers. If you don't he'll shut down and communication will stop.)

A great exercise to use in any situation is to ask 20 open-ended questions. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no answer. You will get much more information than with a closed-ended question. If you do ask a closed-ended question, be sure to follow up with an open-ended question. If you get stuck and cannot think of one, try using the words "Tell me" before any question.

An example is "Tell me how you made the decision to purchase your last software program?"

Two exercises I use in Sales Trainings are "Tell me about the house you grew up in" or "Tell me about the first car you bought". I have one participant ask open-ended questions and one listen and take notes. It's a lot of fun to see where the topics go and what is learned about the person being questioned.

Give 20 open-ended questions a try. You can try it with a business colleague, a friend, a spouse, a child. You'll have fun. I promise.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Close Ratio

As of today's writing, my close ratio on renting my apartment is 0. I have had 16 showings and 0 closes.

My contractor is amazed. He says that all his apartments rent on the first showing. I believe he thinks I am at fault in some way. That somehow I'm less enthusiastic than he is or I'm not pointing out selling features. Although this hurts my ego a bit, it could be true. What also could be true is that this is a tougher economy. He currently does not have any apartments for rent, so he's not experiencing what I'm experiencing. Renters seem to either 1) want to stay where they are or 2) get a very low rent even though the apartment has many upgrades they can't easily find. and 3) There are many apartments available for rent in this market. Some are comparable and some are not.

My Realtor seems to think it's because she does not have an exclusive listing on the apartment. Could be true. She sent me a very thoughtful email on all the benefits of an exclusive listing. I'll be open to next time but this time I had done so much marketing on my own I can't forgo it in anticipation that an exclusive listing will bring me a renter.

At this point, we don't know because we don't have any closes. Our marketing analysis to this point only shows us cost per lead.

My Realtor - 5 leads - $0 (no cost is incurred until there is a close)

ChicagoReader - 5 leads over a 3 week period. $171 ($57 a week) + $70 1 rental application (minus $70 rental application fee was charged back to potential renter) Cost per lead = $34.20.

CraigsList - 0 leads/$0

CraigsList Garage - 3 leads/$0

FreePress - 0 leads/$64 (ran the ad for 1 week. We are $64 in the hole here.)

Posted Flyers- 0 leads/$0

Apt Ppl - 2 leads/$0 (you only pay when they close)

Chgo Apt Finders - 1 lead/$0 (you only pay when you close)

Apt Exchange - 0 leads/$0

At this point, we cannot analyze the close ratio. Our cost per lead analysis says - keep trying creative things with Craigslist, the Realtor is doing great, we need to learn more here about why that is the case, the Chicago Reader seems to produce results, the apartment agencies don't seem to produce as much as you think they would, we need to ask more questions here, the FreePress doesn't seem to be worth the investment, so that's been dropped and lastly posting flyers doesn't seem to produce a thing.

In sales, leads are important but sales are more important. Sure you wants lots of leads but if your close ratio is down, who cares? Getting 10 leads and closing 5 is a 50% close ratio, getting 100 leads and closing 5 is a 5% close ratio. What you want to do is look at the 50% close ratio and increase it. In addition, you want to look at the 5% close ratio and increase it.

It's tempting to confuse activity with productivity. Don't fall into the trap.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Marketing Analysis

A marketing analysis is taking a look at all your marketing activities and measuring which ones are the most effective so that you can create repeatable patterns.

To give you an example, I'll use my Chicago apartment for rent. The showings to potential renters have come from:

My Realtor: 5
Chicago Reader: 5
CraigsList, Apartment: 0
CraigsList, Garage: 3
Free Press: 0
Posted Flyers: 0
Apt People: 2
Chicago Apartment Finders: 1
Apartment Exchange: 0

As I look at these results, I can see that my realtor and the Chicago Reader have done pretty well for me.

A Chicago Reader ad has cost me $57.00 a week and I've run it for 3 weeks.

My realtor will take one months rent equal to $1,195.

Craigslist is free but isn't producing anything for me. Craigslist has a great reputation for finding renters and I've had good luck before. So I started to analyze, "why is it not the case anymore?"

When you check a Craigslist listing for an apartment, you are overwhelmed with daily postings. The posters have figured out how to post the same property every day in a different way. The renters are overwhelmed and frustrated. Taking a look at this information and asking questions is an example of listening.

I decided to try a backdoor approach to CraigsList, posting the garage thinking that if someone needed a garage, they might need an apartment too. This idea produced three inquiries.

Then I ask, why is the realtor doing well? I can post on the MLS myself for a fee. I believe it's because she is a long-term professional realtor. Her postings have credibility. She's known in her marketplace. When she has a posting, other realtors who know her take notice.

Why is the Chicago Reader doing well? I think it's because Craigslist is so saturated. The Reader is easier to read and there's less competition because of the small weekly fee. It is also distributed in a target market that has a high population of renters.

This is an example of a marketing analysis. When clients ask "what marketing/sales initiative should I use?" My response is to try several and test them. Once you see positive patterns, invest more in the initiative that is producing results.

That's how it works.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


All things being equal, if I have a decision to make, I'll choose the sales person that has enthusiasm for their product or service.

Enthusiasm goes a long, long way.

It's true, you won't be successful selling something that you don't care about.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I love when prospects ask for references. Before I landed a Sales Training client the prospect asked me, "what makes you different than anyone else?" My response was "passionate, enthusiastic references." He hired me on the spot, although he didn't check the references.

I always check. You learn a lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tough Personalities

As a sales rep I've always been good with the tough personality. You know the type. He's the guy that lets you into his office but doesn't invite you to sit down and gives you five minutes while he's looking at his watch to tell him what you're trying to sell him.

Here's how I learned how to deal with that personality. I'd look around the office for clues. If I'd see a family photo of him with young children, I'd think "I bet he's a really good and loving grandfather." I'd focus on that thought, greet him with a big smile and start asking questions about how I might be able to help.

It works. I'd build a connection with someone who was used to intimidating people. Try it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Difference Between a Feature and a Benefit

A feature is something your product has. If you are a realtor and you are selling a house on a tree-lined street, the tree-lined street is a feature.

A benefit is a feature that the prospect cares about.

If your prospect loves uninterrupted sunlight streaming through every window in the house, the tree-lined street is not a benefit to that buyer. When selling, a sales person needs to understand what features the prospect cares about.

The only way to know what they care about, is by asking questions and listening very carefully to their answers.

Friday, October 23, 2009


At our call center we do not compensate the callers with a bonus if they get a lead.

In our TeleIntelligence Programs, we pay our callers well, train them well and treat them well. They can work any 20 hours a week that they'd like and wear shorts in the summer and sweats in the winter. We work with high caliber clients and only do B2B calling. We don't sell aluminum siding to residents on a Sat morning.

Our callers are also not sales people. They are calling and qualifying opportunities to be turned over to sales people. We have not had turnover in more than a year and we have some of the original callers we hired on staff.

Paying a caller a bonus puts the onus on a caller to decide what a lead is. They will be generous in the description because they are motivated to do so by the additional money they will earn. With our programs, the callers are motivated by the quality of the lead. They continue to work with the customer, garnering feedback so that they are in a better position to ask more relevant questions and take each opportunity as far as they can.

We are proud of the way we work and the results we produce. Contact us at 312.697.0885 or if you'd like us to create a successful program for your company.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time Management

I developed our Time Management workshop based on feedback from salespeople. The comments on the Sales Training evaluations I received said "all of your sales processes sound great, we just don't have time."

So I developed a Time Management course specifically for sales people. We're usually a right-brained bunch doing a ton of multi-tasking and a military style approach which focuses on perfection and rigid time management practices won't work for us. I started doing some research a created a pretty unique program.

I begin the one day session by re-assuring my group that I do not want them to work more hours. We already work a ton of hours and the answer is not to work more hours. The goal is to get more out of the hours we already work.

I actually use a time management assessment to identify the components of successful time management and where the participants can improve.

Personally I'm great at meeting deadlines. No one would ever guess that I have a time management issue. I do and my greatest challenge is Procrastination. I can come up with a million creative things to do when there is a task before me that I don't want to do.

I've learned to work around this challenge. One of the tactics I use to avoid procrastination is to set a time limit. I had to figure out how to set up my Internet service in my office. I hate this stuff. I avoided it for several days and came up with many excuses. Then I finally scheduled a time from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to figure it out. I figured it out by 3:45 p.m.

Knowing that I would not have to do it for more than two hours helped me to stop avoiding it. And I completed the task before my deadline which thrills my sales person's heart.

TimeMgmt Flyer

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Start, Poor Follow Through

I'm working on renting a beautiful apartment on the NW side of Chicago. I have the ad posted in a local newspaper.

A woman from a rental agency contacted me. I admired her creativity. Great place to look for prospects to sign contracts to rent apartments and a great place to scout out properties for your renters. Clever.

She said she had a renter for my property. I felt that was a lie but moved forward anyway because if she's clever getting contracts perhaps she'll be clever in finding renters.

I submitted a contract and haven't heard from her again. Too bad.

I have this experience when I'm coaching and training sales people. They have GREAT intentions when they get going but fizzle out pretty quickly.

There's a statistic that most sales are made after the fifth call. Most sales people call once and quit, 25% call two times and quit and only 10% keep trying.

If the metric is sales are made after the fifth call, if you haven't called at least five times, you are not even in the game. If only 10% of all sales people play there, you don't have much competition.

If you look at your CRM system and note that you have not made five points of contact, get to work!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Networking Meetings

When you attend networking meetings, mix it up. If you sell technology don't go to meetings that will attract other people in technology.

Go to a meeting of an association of florists, general contractors, manufacturers, service providers. If you do, you'll be the one of the few technology experts or maybe even the only one and you'll make a lot of contacts.

Mix it up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power of the Customer

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton (1918–1992) American retailer founder of Wal-Mart

As customers we have power we forget about and don't exercise often enough. Wal-Mart is a great example. Many people don't feel right about the fact that American workers don't have adequate health care, yet the largest purchaser of health care in America, Wal-Mart does little to challenge the problem. In addition, we struggle with wages that don't meet the minimum living expenses but turn a blind eye at the exorbitant profits Wal-Mart posts.

Let's fire them.

I'm not afraid of a fair negotiation. Going for the cheapest price and leveraging your vendors has a long-term ripple affect. I was recently at a meeting for small business owners. We were discussing the lack of available financing and how it was affecting our growth. One man who once owned a $25 million company with no debt bragged "I financed my business on the backs of my vendors."

Yuck. He entered into business relationships with no intention of paying within terms. Stretching out his payments for 90 and 120 days. Vendors who wanted business and trusted him fell for it and he was able to grow a profitable business.

He asked for my card. He's starting a new venture and needs sales support. There's no need for him to call me. I'm not financing anyone's business and he's not the kind of guy I want to do business with.

Trust is key in mutually beneficial business relationships. Customers like him would ruin FullCircle Management.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can I Wear Jeans?

I was just asked by a sales rep if he could wear jeans to a meeting.

My response is dress one level up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sales Calls

When you're meeting or telephone prospects make sure to have a goal of what you'd like to accomplish.

One of the goals I have is to "make it the best call they've had all day."

Find a reason to connect with your prospect, give them some value, an idea, a new way of looking at things. Make them laugh. We're all stressed out and busy multitasking with too many requirements put on us. Isn't it great when someone comes along and lightens our load a little bit?

Make it the best call they've had all day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm a big fan of LinkedIn. It's a powerful business tool for connecting. Giving and getting referrals has not changed over the past 20 years I've been in business. LinkedIn is an automated tool to facilitate the process.

Today I have 120 connections. Of those 120 connections, I can say that I 100% believe and can vouch for 115 people on my list. There are 5 people that I don't really know. Before I understood how the tool would work, I accepted their invitations.

Now that I understand that it's good old fashioned networking, I only invite and accept invitations of people that I feel comfortable including in my close business circle.

What am I going to do with those five I don't really know? I'm going to make a point to get to know them so that I can feel just as comfortable with them as I do with the other 115. By doing so, I'll increase my network.

If you don't manage your contacts thoughtfully, all you have is a list of names. You're no closer to having a network than you were without the list.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Social Marketing

Business owners seem to think Social Marketing: Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, SEO are the holy grail and business will come flowing effortlessly to them.

Social Marketing, in a way, is the holy grail. It's extremely powerful marketing. It's an inexpensive tool to help build a following, connect with your customers and bring more business to you. It provides immediate, measurable results.

A business however, cannot avoid, the "Basics of Sales".

An executive told me recently that her business received 1100 Facebook hits and 25 customers. My reply was 'that's great! Now you have a decision to make, you can either increase your Facebook hits or increase your close ratio. If the metrics are right and 1100 hits bring 25 customers will 2200 hits bring 50? Or is there a way to increase the number of conversions from 1100 hits? These are happy problems.

In addition, the 25 immediate customers don't represent the whole picture. 1100 prospects or clients have increased their awareness of her products and may result in sales later.

This business sells promotional buttons to rock and roll bands. Facebook is a great tool for them. It reaches their target market.

Facebook is not, today, a great tool for a manufacturing firm that sells coil to OEMs. Chances are their customers are not on Facebook and not looking for product information there. By following the Basics of Sales, businesses need to listen to their customers and reach their targets with media that they use and value.

By listening and employing solid sales skills, social marketing is the holy grail and can be very, very powerful.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Charmed Sales People

There's a comment after the Basics of Sales post that talks about the types of sales people that are so charming and attractive, people want to buy from them just because they want to be liked and accepted by them.

It is true, there are some sales people like that out there. I'm not one of them and if you read this blog you probably are not either.

I knew of a guy that bought a truck from a beautiful woman at a car dealership. Her desk was right in the front window of the dealership. He used to drive by just to take a look at her. Sure, it happens that sales can occur based on the sheer charm of the sales person but it's not something you can control and it's not a quality that most of us have.

For the rest of us, the Basics of Sales will work. You'll need the basics whether your job is selling or you are looking for a job or your promoting an idea. You can control and influence the process and increase your chances of consistent success. It's not based on luck or charm.

You'll work with integrity, and attract the kind of profitable customers and opportunities you want. For the charmed sales people they can even work the process and not rely on the chance that someone will be so engaged by them they'll want to buy.

It's fun to work and deliver sound services for a fair process. It's profitable and it feels good to work with integrity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ignoring Buyers

A lot of times sales people will dismiss opportunities because they only want to deal with the 'decision maker.'

In today's business world, one person does not make a decision in isolation. They will rely on a team to collaborate with when making a decision. It's important to treat each and every person that you meet with as if they have the authority to give you a sale. You'll learn a lot.

I was out making sales calls with a wholesale florist sales rep. Wholesale florists sell flowers to florists who in turn sell them at retail. We were making calls together so I could provide some sales coaching.

We called on a florist and the owner was not in. I asked the rep what he learned. He replied "nothing, the owner's not in, I have to come back another day." I suggested we go back in and talk to the woman behind the counter.

We asked her questions as if she were in authority to make a decision. We learned that the owner rarely came in, took his summers off to stay in his vacation home and relied heavily on his designer to make purchase decisions. They had a relationship with a competitor but the competitor was sometimes late in making deliveries.

By asking a few questions to a 'non-decision maker' we sure learned a whole lot.

Questions are your best friend in sales. Remember to listen more than you talk and you'll win each time.

Commission Programs

I'm not a fan of paying sales people 100% commission. When you do, you attract 'just anybody' to come and work for you. In addition, they almost always have second or third jobs.

When your sales reps are not making any money they are desperate and operating out of fear to get the sale. They'll use manipulation tactics with the prospects or the company they work for. Don't build your business on this week foundation.

I just saw Greg Wittstock, the pond guy, give a talk for a group of Presidents of small businesses. Greg honestly acknowledged business was down. He also said that he has guaranteed his sales reps salaries until 2010 so they can stay focused on sales and growing his company and not worry about paying their mortgages.

I fully support Greg and wish him tons of success. Seems like his company is embracing The Vision.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Shadowing is a great sales tactic that used to be used frequently, I'm not sure if companies use it too much anymore.

The term means that a senior sales rep teams up with a junior sales rep and they spend the day making sales calls. This is different than going out with a manager. When traveling with a sales manager, the sales manager has power and the junior sales rep has to listen to their critique whether it's right or wrong.

With Shadowing, the junior sales rep is able to watch and learn from the senior sales rep. The junior rep will learn by observing. They'll learn skills and tactics that the senior rep didn't even know they had.

The junior rep is required to make calls on this day as well. The senior rep will more than likely learn something about the company and products since it is all fresh in the junior rep's mind.

I've learned a ton from Shadowing. If you don't do it at your firm, I suggest you give it a try.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't Lie

There were a couple of great responses to the Don't Lie post.

One said,

"I think many salespeople might think a short-term gain is fine, since they'll change companies and somebody else will have to pay for their dishonesty."

This reader is correct. Some think short term gain is OK and they won't get caught. They're even rewarded by their employers for their tactics. Sure I've worked with people like this. I'd like to say that they weren't successful but they often were. Companies are so desperate for cash flow in our economic system, the leaders will turn a blind eye to those that generate revenue. It's one way to build a business but it's not my dream.

The writer goes on to use Bernie Madoff as an example. Even though our current economic climate is difficult, I like it. This economy exposes businesses that are shells and not truly profitable. Most businesses are not profitable. I think it's an exciting time and an opportunity to create true economic strength.

Another commenter states, "I get those annoying lie-calls at home all the time and don't buy into them. They are a waste of their time. Lying to me is insulting. If I had a SPAM button on my phone, I would hit it! I don't care how busy I am, I KNOW who has called me."

If your company's goal is to deliver with integrity and build a system of effortless success where your customer's come to you and gladly pay for the value that you bring don't lie and don't hire people who do.

Wouldn't it be a fun way to work and live? Imagine what we could create.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Know Your Competition

When you're sellingi t's your job to know your competition inside and out, including the fact that the prospect can make no decision and function just the way they always have.

Knowing your competition helps you to understand the market and what you are competing against. When a prospect comes to you, you have an opportunity to position yourself as an expert. You're closest to the market and know all the options. You want them to come to you with questions as an advisor. Be honest and handle those questions well.

If you're competitor does something well, acknowledge it. Then discuss what your product/service offers instead. Help the prospect to make an informed decision.

In each of our industries we have overhead, hard dollar costs and we want to make a fair profit. Your competition is in the same boat. If their pricing is significantly lower, something's going on and you want to know what it is.
  1. They may be buying the market - offering services at a loss
  2. It might not be an apples to apples comparison - find out what's different

If it's not an apples to apples comparison, eliminate the pieces that your prospect doesn't value so that you can be more competitive. If you're service offering is more valuable, point out where it is.

If the competitor is buying the market and operating at a loss they will not be able to sustain that model forever. They won't be able to deliver high level service to their prospect consistently. They may not be committed to their market. Let your prospect know that. Let them know they are taking a risk by accepting a superficially low price and it may be more expensive for them with both time and money in the long run.

Time and money have equal weight in negotiations. However, time is more valuable. If you waste your time, you can never get it back.

If you have built trust and connection with your prospect you can ask them if it's OK for you to review the proposal or quote. Tell your prospect, honestly, if it's a deal you cannot compete with you'll let them know. Make sure you deliver on that promise.

Don't be afraid of your competition. Get to know them thoroughly. Understand what they do well and where they fall short. Work with your prospects to help them get the best deal possible. If your services fall short, bring them up. It's great market research.

Get out there and sell something . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Connecting with Prospects

Genuine connections take time to build and require trust.

They don't happen immediately. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you received a referral or the prospect is very cordial and polite you've made a connection. A lot of things could be going on with this person and it's your job to find out what's going on with them.

There are several broad personality types and communication styles to be aware of. It's important to know your own style, be aware of others' style and understand how you can adapt.

4 Broad Types of Buyers are:

The Great Friend Buyer: This person is open, shares information easily, will want to know about your family and tell you about theirs. When you ask about their weekend they really want to tell you. They enjoy meetings.

The Technical Buyer: This person wants to know everything about your product and service. They'll research your company and competition. They may create their own spreadsheet analysis. They will read and understand your contact. This person will not be pushed into making a decision. Take your time with them.

The Bottom Line Buyer: This person wants facts, and fast. Make sure you can think on your feet and answer questions. You'll be dismissed quickly as incompetent if you don't know your product, competition and their business. They want to make a good, informed decision and work with someone they can trust.

The Steady Buyer: This person may be very polite and quiet. They may smile and nod as you talk. They will take information for review later. This person wants to trust you and understand your information and process. They may have reservations and questions they are not sharing with you. It's your job to get this person to talk.

As a sales person you need to address each type of buyer by understanding what they want and giving it to them. If you are in a conference room with a group of buyers, it's likely all types of buyers will be represented in that room. It's your job to learn who they are and what they value by asking questions.

A great little sales contest to give yourself is to measure how much talk in meetings. If you are talking more than 50% of the time, you are talking to much.

Listen to the buyer and they will tell you exactly what it will take to get the deal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Learn How People Like to Communicate

There once was a statistic that it would take five points of contact to get the attention of a prospect. With all the methods of communication out there today; email, voicemail, phone calls, face to face meetings, twitter, text messaging, the statistic could be higher. Learn how your prospect likes to communicate and then use the method they prefer. You'll learn which method that is by listening. If they never respond to emails, emails are probably not the preferred method.

I left a detailed voicemail for a client. He called back, ready to talk but unaware of what I discussed in the voicemail. When I asked about it, he said, "I never listen to voicemails. I get 120 a day. When I see a number on the caller ID that I want to speak to, I call back." He also wasn't responding to my emails. He said, "I have three addresses, I only check one regularly. I get 500 emails a day."

This guy is stretched. I use the email he checks very sparingly and type whatever is relevant in the subject line so he can see the message right away. I no longer waste time leaving voicemails he won't listen to. I call only when I have key information that will move our project forward. When I do call, I am prepared with bullet points of what I want to discuss so that our call is meaningful. I want him to trust that when I reach out to him, I'm bringing value and this communication will be worth his while.

As you communicate with your prospects, use the communication method they are most comfortable with and start earning trust and building your connection.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Lie

I've been receiving cold calls lately where the sales person says "I'm calling to respond to your request for more information about vending machines (or fill in the blank product/service)."

These sales reps are banking on the fact that the prospect is so busy and overwhelmed they can't remember what they inquired about.

I remember. I resent being lied to.

It's a really bad sales practice. Do you want to build your foundation and connection with your prospect based on manipulation?

Connecting and building trust are two key basics in the sales process.

Don't be tempted to skip over them. Connecting and building trust with your prospects will put you head and shoulders above your competition that is acting out of fear and desparation.

Do business the way you want to. Find out what makes you, you and connect with your prospects in a way that makes you feel good. Then you'll start really selling.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sales Blitz

Sales Blitz' are an old technique but very effective. If you haven't done one in a while or never have done one - now is a great time.

A sales blitz is conducted by devoting a whole day to focus your sales staff entirely on calling and qualifying prospects. If there are customers you would like to reactivate or sell more to, add them to the list.

Here are some techniques you can use:
  • Send a letter/email/communication to your prospect base telling them you'll be having a sales blitz. Notify the prospect of the date.
  • If possible, have inside sales people or telemarketers call and say "our sales rep will be visiting you on next week Tuesday". If they don't reach the prospect, have the caller leave a voicemail.
  • If you don't have an inside sales staff or callers, have your reps make the calls.
  • Add an incentive for the prospect that is appropriate for your business: coupons, premiums, (golf balls, maps, product samples, etc.) Get creative
  • Have your sales people go out and make qualifying prospect visits on the date that was announced.
  • Set a target of how many prospects you'd like to connect with.
  • Reward the sales rep that makes the most connections and announce the winner
  • Have fun with it!

A sales blitz can be conducted with an inside sales force as well. Follow the same format but use calling versus personal visits.

Sales Blitz' is are a great way to create a surge of prospects and positive energy in your organization.

Now's a good time. You can create one on your own or you can call me if if you'd like help organizing a blitz.

Get out there and sell something . . .

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Increase the Success of Cold Calls

I received a call from a woman that said 'we'd like to have a lunch and learn for all of your employees'. My response was 'no thanks' and I hung up.

What did she do wrong in her Cold Calling process? Lots of things.

She literally picked up the phone and made a request. Cold calling that way will be filled with rejection.

A different approach would be to target companies that are interested in your service. I don't even know what her service was. I'll make the assumption it was health insurance.

Here's a better way to call.
  1. Do your homework before you call - does this company fit the profile of a company that would provide health insurance for it's employees?
  2. Check the website - do they have employees? Read their press releases, understand what is important to the company. Check for executive names so you can ask for a specific person when you call.

Now try this: "Good Morning, I took a look at your website and noticed you have a large call center. Do you provide health insurance for those employees?"

Do you see the difference? By doing some research on the company you are starting to build a connection. You're starting to earn the right to ask questions and build a relationship with this company. It will likely take more calls to actually engage them into allowing you to present information on health insurance benefits. With the information you gain from this call, you're beginning to build a database of information so you can continue to target this company. Make sure your track the information in your CRM so next time you call you are not starting all over.

Don't make cold calls. Do your research first the market will appreciate it and you'll increase your success ratio.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Too Expensive

My sister came over for breakfast on Sunday morning. She was working out a financial analysis with me. She's brilliant at that.

We started to talk about home improvements. She wants to get some painting done. I said why don't you call my friend/colleague Claire . "She's too expensive." my sister replied.

"Who's going to do it?" I asked.

She said, "Ronnie, a kid in the neighborhood. He said he'd do it but he never shows up when he says he will." I asked "How long has that been going on?" She replied "a couple of months."

"There's a guy at church who lost his job. He came over took a look at the job and said 'not interested,' my sister went on.

I wish my sister would realize that these solutions are not really cheaper and she should just call Claire. Claire will show up, be prepared and can be 100% trusted in your home. She will quote a fair price but it won't be as cheap as Ronnie or the unemployed guy from church.

Claire is not cheaper because she knows the value of her work. There is a cost to travel, being on time, scheduling jobs, having the right materials, understanding the scope of the job and planning to execute in a timely manner. She considers that cost and adds additional budget for her time and expertise. This is her business and she takes it seriously.

If my sister factored in the cost of her time, living with her unpainted space for months and managing contractors that don't show up she'd realize that Claire is a real value.

I like to do business with professionals that know their value.

Friday, September 18, 2009


There's one theory in sales that the price should not be disclosed until the very, very end. The prospect needs to listen to your features and benefits and understand them fully before you'll give them a number.

As a consumer I find that frustrating. I want to know if the product or service is within the range of something I can afford. Once I know the price I'll be more interested to understand the features and benefits and the value that the price is based upon.

I have two apartments to rent and thought it would be fun to advertise them on a local Chicago blog. A friend suggested a national blog with a local presence. I've looked at the site, read the media kit, sent an email, exchanged a phone call and still don't have a price. I'm getting frustrated with this national blog with a local presence. I think I'll find some edgy Chicago writer with a loyal readership that'll be grateful some advertising revenue landed in their lap.

With FullCircle Management's services our minimum pricing for a TeleIntelligence B2B calling program is approximately $8,400. That's the price a company might spend on a trade show booth, on a print advertising page, or a direct mail piece. Our programs show consistent measurable ROI. If $8,400 scares a company I'd like to know sooner than later.

Our CRM, SalesInSync, is $30 per user per month - the cost of one lunch per sales person. If a company will not invest $30 a month in their sales person, I'd like to know sooner than later.

My philosophy is to put your number on the table and begin negotiating from there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

People Love to Buy

People don't like to be sold but they love to buy -- Jeff Gittomer

I conduct an exercise in sales trainings. I ask the participants to describe the worst sales rep they ever dealt with.

The replies I get include "they lied to me, didn't know their product, seemed desparate for the commission, didn't act with integrity, I got a bad feeling from them, they didn't follow up."

My response is "just don't do that. You will be head and shoulders above your comepetion."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Best Day to Call

Sometimes reps will tell me they don't want to call on Monday because it's the start of the week or Friday because it's the end of the week or in the morning because people are starting their day or in the evening because people want to get home.

The best time to call is now.

If you can make a connection with your prospect and offer value, it's always a good time to call. Watch the patterns of your calling and mix up the times. You will find executives and decision makers early in the morning, late in the evenings, on the weekends and during the holiday season when other employees are taking off.

Your metrics in calling will be for every 15 calls you make you might get one or two that are willing to talk to you. That's a good metric. If you're making 15 calls and getting one or two, celebrate, that's right where you need to be.

One or two new prospects a day will keep your pipeline full. If you stick with it, and call daily, you'll be guaranteed success.

I promise.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Earning the Right

"Don't confuse Activity with Productivity" -- Unknown

Did you ever get the feeling someone is trying to sell you something?

I was introduced to a woman who does public speaking for a living. I approach all connections tentatively. I want to really get to know a person before I give them a recommendation or invite them into my busines circle.

The woman had high energy, was very flashy and extremely enthusiastic. I took a look at her website. To me, it looked like lots of fluff and no substance. I could be wrong. I haven't gotten to know her yet.

We tried to schedule a meeting. Our schedules didn't permit so I suggested a phone call. I didn't hear back.

I then received an E-zine from her in my email in box. I hit unsubscribe. She hasn't learned about me or my business. She has no idea what I want to accomplish. At this point I'm not open to receiving marketing materials. She hasn't earned the right to send me the information. She hasn't asked for permission. She has not yet been invited into my business circle.

Making a genuine connection with your prospect is one of the Sales Basics.

When sales reps make lots of contacts and send out a volume of marketing materials they think they are being very productive. The truth is they have a lot of activity going on but no real thoughtful approach. Once in a while a connection sticks and they might get lucky. I wonder how many they alienate with their approach?

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Paid Too Much!

I'm rehabbing a building on Chicago's NW Side.

The process included totally remodeling two rental units: new kitchens, new baths, new tile, refinished floors, new plumbing, new electrical, new windows, new appliances and a repaired roof.

I mentioned my project to a realtor who is in the business of buying properties, fixing them up and selling them for a profit.

When I told him what I paid without asking one question about the scope of the work or the quality of the execution he exclaimed "you paid too much! Next time let me look at the quotes."

I was a little disappointed he didn't want to talk shop. I thought he'd benefit from the referral of my contrator.

Leases expire in Chicago every April and September. I wanted to get my units ready for rental by October 1. I was working under an extremely tight deadline. I found a contractor that has 40 rental units of his own. He knows the business.

When I met the electrician, the plumber and the carpenter, I realized right away these people were not laborers, they are craftsmen. They took pride in the work. They described every challenge, pointed out every detail and proudly discussed their solutions with me. The team was mindful of my budget and time constraint. They made low cost decisions where they could never compromising on quality.

Sure, the General Contractor made a little profit by coordinating and managing the team of contractors. He had best recommendations for all my challenges and had a team that could produce the work based on past, proven success. There's tremendous value to that and he earned his markup.

I wish my realtor friend would've discussed the process with me a little bit. Sure, I could have probably paid less. I could have taken their bids and had other contractors under bid them.

I choose not to do business that way. I may have paid a little more but gained more in some areas and received more value in others. I received more benefit than I can measure.

I will use this contractor again and again.

No, I did not pay the cheapest price.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What makes You, You?

“Dare to be yourself.”
AndrĂ© Gide (1869–1951) French writer, Nobel Prize winner

I never intended to be a sales person. I was a marketing manager and provided sales support. A sales job came my way. I thought it would be fun. I took lots of sales assessments that firmly reported I did not have the right personality for sales. I'm not extroverted. I am analytical, thoughtful and follow through on initiatives I start. I'm not the life of the party but am the one who makes sure everyone is enjoying themselves. I am not motivated by money but expect to be paid fairly for what I produce.

I went to sales trainings that taught me the basics of sales:
  • Identify prospects that are good targets for your service
  • Connect with those prospects
  • Listen to the prospects, understand their situation
  • Analyze how your product/service can benefit them
  • Present your solution by matching the features of your product/service to what they care about
  • Offer pricing that is profitable to you and based on value to them
  • Provide a contract that is fair to both parties
  • Execute well
  • Record all the information you captured about the prospect in a database (CRM) so that you can sell to them continuously
  • Have fun with it.
One day as I was making my calls I thought "what makes Alicia, Alicia?" The answer, I thought, was "I will work just as hard making sure that you get good service and a quality product as I've worked to sign your business."

I started using that as my closing statement. The deals starting closing one by one.

What makes You, You?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Business people sometimes confuse sales with marketing. A sale occurs when money actually changes hands and your product or service is being used. Marketing builds awareness for the product or service.

If I asked you to name a beverage you might say "Coke". The "Coke is It' campaign did it's job. Coke is in your awareness.

If my next question to you is 'what are you drinking?' and your answer is "water", water represents the sale. You are aware of Coke but you actually consumed water.

In this example you might perceive that the water was free. You walked over and got it from your tap. Someone, somewhere pays a water bill. You also invested your time to pour the water. It was not exactly free.

Coke's competition is now water. In order to sell Coke to you, a sales rep would have to convince you to use your money to purchase Coke when your preference is water.

If you purchase Coke, the sales person was now successful. If not, no sale was made and the rep needs to move onto the next opportunity. The salesperson did have an advantage because Coke was in your awareness, they did not, however, close the sale.

It's important that sales and marketing partner to achieve the same result - increased sales. In an ideal situation the sales rep would report back the objections they heard from the prospect in choosing water over Coke. The marketing rep would then incorporate new selling features into their campaigns making the sale easier for the sales rep next time.

When it works, it's harmonious.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Listening and Responding

You'll hear me talk about the fact that the key to sales is how well you listen not how well you talk or how well you present. If you really listen, the market will tell you exactly what they want. All you have to do is provide your service profitably. It's easy.

Today Social Marketing: Blogs, Twitter, Linked In, Plaxo, FaceBook, YouTube are all the rage. The market is wondering which tools are right for their company. Should they use all of them or none of them? If they do choose, how do they get started and how do they do it well? After hearing these inquiries over and over again FCM has joined forces with Blogging Made Simple to help companies maximize the social marketing tools that are available to them.

When FCM was created we thought we were going to provide six sigma consulting. The market said "we don't want a report, we want leads." We added a call center to provide TeleIntelligence: b2b cold calling. Then we say the market managed the leads we provided poorly. We started to provide consulting on how to customize their CRM system effectively and eventually created the proprietary CRM system SalesInSync. From viewing the CRM system we saw that the sales people needed help closing leads and moving the sales process forward, we created Company-Specific Sales Training to help them use their own competitive advantages to strengthen their sales process. We've built our business on listening.

If you are interested in learning more, give me a ring at 312.697.0885

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Basics of Sales

When I provide consulting to an organization or develop training sometimes I get the feedback "this is so easy." Sales sure is easy. All you have to do is follow the process thoughtfully.
  • Identify prospects that are good targets for your service
  • Connect with those prospects
  • Listen to the prospects, understand their situation
  • Analyze how your product/service can benefit them
  • Present your solution by matching the features of your product/service to what they care about
  • Offer pricing that is profitable to you and based on value to them
  • Provide a contract that is fair to both parties
  • Execute well
  • Record all the information you captured about the prospect in a database (CRM) so that you can sell to them continuously
  • Have fun with it

That's it. Easy.Just do it.

Don't forget the most important part -- have fun.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making Your Own Decisions

“Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own,
instead of someone else's.”

-- Billy Wilder, Director

People are often attracted to a sales career because of the freedom of the job. It's you, the prospect, the product and the ability to earn money, out on the front line. How well you handle it is up to you.

You will be inundated with advise on how to speak, how to dress, how to present, how to communicate, how to negotiate. Listen to all the advise you get and learn from it. Realize however, whatever you choose is ultimately your decision. Be willing to reap the gains from your decision or be willing to face the failure.

You really are free.