52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #33 – Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling by Jeb Blount @salesgravy

Everyone knows what they should be doing in Sales. I’ve never met anyone that thought they should prospect less. Almost everyone knows Fanaticalthat they aren’t as efficient as they should be. Everyone knows that they aren’t as disciplined or as structured as they should be. The trick is to find a book, program, mentor, coach, colleague or boss that will motivate you to do the things you know you should. That’s hard to do in a book format, but Jeb does his best to reach out of the pages and slap some prospecting sense into the common sales person.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #33 – Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling by Jeb Blount @salesgravy

 

Jeb has a very straight forward no nonsense type of approach that appeals to me. He’s not as crude or in your face about his methods, but he’s still very passionate and doesn’t mince words. You have to prospect and you have to prospect a lot. You can definitely be smarter about it, but being smarter doesn’t mean you do it less, it just means your results are better. I haven’t read Jeb’s other books, but I’ve been aware of salesgravy.com for a few years now and he’s been slowly but surely creeping into my sales consciousness.

I’m amazed at how he took what easily could have been a chapter in a lot of other books and expanded the idea into a complete book. The message is clear and every word in the book is written to convey that message. Despite what you would think, the book doesn’t get repetitive or dry in fact, it’s upbeat and Jeb manages to stay the course and describe many different angles of the message.

What is Fanatical Prospecting? Why should you do it? How do you do it? Jeb provides the answers and does so in a way that appeals to a wide audience. Many people forget the “Why” of why they work so hard. Jeb tries to remind you of your “Why” and then motivates you to take action. He lays out clear paths and lets you know the pitfalls to avoid. Social Media is a tool, it’s not considered prospecting, though. Pick up the phone and say hello to someone. Jeb gives the advice and then lets you know why he gives that advice and then gives reasons that you should listen to it before he gives it again.

I don’t expect you to be motivated to change your habits with my words alone, pick up this book and really dive in. You’ll find something to motivate you into action.

10 Commandments of SalesFu – How to be a #Sales Ninja

Do you have all the information and knowledge about your product but still can’t close the deal? Do you have a fear of selling because you aren’t sure what to do? Do you not want to be “That Guy” or “That Girl” that’s always trying to sell and is annoying as heck? Are you constantly being told “No”, or worse yet, “Maybe”? If you or anyone you know needs to grow into a better salesperson share, like, re-post or whatever you need to do to get this info into their hands. Kicktras

You MUST learn the 10 Commandments of SalesFu.

You need to be a Sales Ninja in today’s world to not only compete, but to dominate.

I’ll go into detail on each. Here they are-

The Sales Ninja

10 Commandments of SalesFu

  1. Be Agreeable
  2. Power of One   (More, Step, Goal)
  3. P.O.P – Power of Please
  4. Don’t Bite the Hand
  5. Be Honest
  6. Over Communicate
  7. No Excuses
  8. Put it in Writing
  9. Treat Others the Way THEY Want to be Treated.
  10. Ask for the Business

 

#1 Always Agree.  Just do it. Record your conversations and see how often you disagree with a customer. SalesFu is all about taking that negative energy and redirecting to service a positive purpose, like closing the deal. If the customer throws you a verbal right hook, you don’t take a verbal swing back and start an argument. You simply step out of the way or duck, then give a gentle nudge to the customer and use their own momentum to keep them moving in the direction they wanted. Never argue with a customer, in a worse case scenario at least agree to disagree.

#2 Power of One. One More, One Step, One Goal. I’m a huge fan of the Number One. I want to be #1. The Number One also means Unity. It means all forces moving in the same direction. People ask how I’m doing all the time. I always tell them, “I’m doing great! I’m saving the world 1 Sale at a time.” and I believe it. People who are extraordinary did very ordinary things, they just did them more often and in a specific order under circumstances when most people would have quit. Make a phone call isn’t hard or extraordinary, but making that phone call after you’ve already made 199 that day takes commitment. After you throw in the towel, always do one more. Define the small steps you need to take in order to achieve a large goal. Focus on the step needed, but never forget about your long term Goal.

#3 P.O.P. – Power of Please. People a little POP in your Sales. People forget to be polite these days, I’m not sure why. Being polite has never killed a deal for me, but I’ve seen plenty of deals crushed because of someone being rude, or being misinterpreted as being rude. Be Self Aware. We don’t about this a lot in Sales, but being Self Aware of how you are viewed and interpreted is crucial to success. It makes absolutely no difference if you meant to say something in jest, but it was taken as a biting comment. I once saw an Old Girlfriend after about 4 years and it was a very hot day. She was wearing an all black outfit and probably wasn’t keen on being seen trudging on a college campus with a heavy backpack in the hot Hawaiian humidity. I’m not sure why, but I told her she looked hot. I meant it, she looked like she needed a cold glass of water or a dip in the ocean. I don’t think she took it that way. On a side note though because of the power of reciprocity she struggled but eventually said a few nice things about me. I was polite and unintentionally said something nice about her and so she was nice and said some nice things back. This goes for sales too, try to anticipate how the words you are saying will be interpreted and always be polite. People want to buy from people they like.

#4 Don’t Bite the Hand. I hate it when I hears sales people complaining about customers. It’s a sign of personal weakness. It’s a sign that you aren’t a true sales professional and a sign that you want to place blame instead of accepting responsibility. I’ve fired salespeople for speaking poorly of the people that pay the bills. Never ever bite the hand that feeds you. Whether or not a customer buys from you is irrelevant, that person may buy the product or service in the future and it’s entirely your fault that you didn’t get the deal. Getting a Win isn’t that difficult. Even if a customer CAN NOT take advantage of your product or service, you are selling hair cuts and you find out the customer is wearing a wig due to Cancer. Can they buy your product? After that customer leaves your store you can complain about why the hell a bald lady was in a hair salon on a busy Saturday, buy you should look inside and find an answer. Why was that customer in your store? Was she looking for a friend? Can she be a referral source? Was she looking to find partners to help support a program to make new wigs and get donated hair? Was she looking for a job? Was she just missing her hair and wanted to see the different styles? There was still a way to leave on good terms and there was a opportunity there that you missed. Success is your fault.

#5 Be Honest. Don’t over promise and under deliver. Even though that customer got on board with you if it’s a bad experience it will hurt your business in the long run. Be Honest with yourself about your product and your service. You have to believe in whatever you do 100% and you can’t do that unless you are authentic and honest.

#6 Over Communicate. People love status updates in today’s world. We all have short attention spans heck, I have a pizza tracker. It tells me when my pizza is in the oven, when it’s being boxed and when it’s on the car for delivery. Thank you Dominoes. Did I need that info? Nope,  for years I’ve waited patiently for the 35 minutes to pass in order to get my pizza and it’s always gotten there. Update you customers more than you think you need to, it breeds confidence and familiarity. If someone doesn’t want that much communication they can delete the email or send you to voicemail. It’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. Over Communication will save your deals.

#7 No Excuses. When you do something wrong, fess up and make it right. You must take responsibility for every single facet of the experience, nothing is excluded. A 3rd party provider drops the ball and the service is interrupted or late. Is that your fault? What if the 3rd party service was selected by your customer because they had a previous business relationship? Is it still your fault? The short answer is YES. You picked the 3rd party vendor and by affiliating yourself you MUST take responsibility for their actions, get another provider if you need to. Even if the customer chose their own provider, let’s say they wanted their own mechanic to install your product, or you are a mortgage broker and your customer chose their own title agent, it is still your responsibility to make sure that the product is installed or the money is there.

#8 Put it in Writing. My mother once told me to “Trust, but Verify.” and still holds true today. People want to trust what you say, but they get peace of mind when you put it in writing. I also can’t tell you how often something got lost in translation or a trick of the brain and what was agreed to meant something completely different to each party. I once agreed to start a project within 5 days, the customer thought I’d be done in 5 days. Put it in writing and save yourself the trouble. You have testimonials or a great rating in some magazine? Get it in writing and send it to your customer, have it framed and put on the wall. Seeing it in black and white means something completely different than talking about it to most people.

#9 Treat Others the Way THEY Want to be Treated.   I take a lot of heat for this from some sales professionals. I’m a huge advocate of communication and being self aware of how that communication is interpreted. I think that the majority of Sales Skills come from proper communication skills. I’m talking about how your message is perceived. I encourage you to mirror your clients, slow down your pace or change the vocabulary you use to talk about a feature. A business man may want to talk about the ROI of a product while the lay person might just need you to say that the product pays for itself. I want to be guided through the process and I pay extra for convenience, that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the buyer who does all their own research and wants me to be hands off. I sell and communicate in a way that is comfortable for our buyer, and doesn’t impact the authenticity or the facts about my product or service. It just makes it more palatable.

#10 Ask for the Business.  Come on, you’ve gone through all the trouble already to get someone interested. Too often sales people just keep selling until the customer says something like, “So what do we do next?” until they close. They consider that a buying sign and so they will talk about the contract and then put the contract on the table eventually. That isn’t selling though. That’s like asking a girl out after she says that if you ask her she will say yes. It’s not the same thing. You have to be willing to put the customer in a position to tell you No. You want to get a Yes or a No so you can move on to the next prospect and make a living for yourself. You have invested the energy to learn your craft and get the customer to agree with you and buy into who you are. Use all that sales capital that you’ve been building up, and Ask for the Business in a very direct and clear cut manner. “Listen Friend, we could probably spend a few more hours swapping stories and me telling you how great our product is, but you probably want to find out for yourself and I’d like to have a reason to come out and visit more often. Let’s place an order, (seal the deal, lock in the terms, put down a credit card, sign the contract), so that you can see first hand what I’ve been talking about. Are we in Business?”

 

There you go. Use these to be great. If you or anyone you know needs to grow into a better salesperson share, like, re-post or whatever you need to do to get this info into their hands.  www.salesfumaster.com    @salesfumaster

 

 

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 10 – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! by Duane Lakin

The world of NLP is a little hazy. I’ve met people who swear by it, and others who write it off as wishful thinking. I believe that there is somethSellwithNLPing to the NLP method, although I’m not sold on the mass appeal and train-ability of this. It’s a tough topic to teach in a book. Let’s take a quick dive into this.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 10 – The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! by Duane Lakin

I was looking to read up on NLP in a professional setting. I had been given the recommendation to read “The Game”  by Neil Strauss which is a book about a pickup artist but his pick up scheme is dominated by the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I can best describe it as part subliminal messaging, part hypnosis and part mentalism. I could see the parallels between really selling yourself in the dating scene to selling yourself and your products/services in a business setting, but I wanted to find a book that really made it simple and had practical demonstrations. I downloaded the audio version of this book after a quick online search of what was available.

I’ve read a lot of self-help and motivational books as well as a lot of sales skills and leadership books, I’m not 100% sure where this book should be categorized. It has some great sales skills advice that can be implemented in person with a lot of practice and some advice about phone sales and scripts. I can see the validity in the sales scripts right away. I’m familiar with word tracks, power words and mirroring your client to make them feel more at ease. NLP can be used to encourage a particular response, in this case a YES response to whatever we are selling.

Some ethics come into play here though, at what point do we cross the line where we are “tricking” a customer into becoming a buyer? Does the NLP speech pattern make someone do what they otherwise wouldn’t want to do? Will there be massive buyer’s remorse a few days after every sale? Is this sales skill, or is this manipulation? I describe Sales as having the ability to persuade and influence a purchase decision, and I think using the right words in conversation has a role to play in that.

I believe that words have power. I believe that a better phone sales script or a better presentation for any pitch will lead to better results. Furthermore, I believe that if you take those same exact words and change your pace and tone to match the situation your conversion numbers will improve dynamically. I believe your body language can influence how likable you are. I also believe that if you are a slime-ball and purposely sell Widgets that are over priced to people that don’t need them you probably shouldn’t learn these skills. I prefer my snail-oil salesmen to rely on old school tactics, but this is America and capitalism requires supply and demand. There are thousands of products available that are destructive to your home, life or the environment and people still buy them.  I’ve seen an Act by Darren Brown, (if you don’t know who this is go do your google search now http://derrenbrown.co.uk/the-core/ ),  and he’s also a mixture of persuasion and influence using some of these appear to be NLP techniques or very similar. He’s upfront about what he’s doing and it still works! He’s entertaining and I’d hate to see him as a salesman. I don’t think that NLP is a bad business practice but it can be used for evil instead of good. Don’t cross that line.

If you research NLP and decide to try some techniques, do it for the right reason. Do it because your client wants to make the right decision but is a little hesitant to do so for fear of making the wrong decision. Use NLP so that you get more thank you cards and verbal gratuities. Use NLP in a scenario where customers are appreciative that you helped them to make a great decision. Tell them what you are doing, tell them that you are going to help them make the right decision. That’s a good thing, Right?

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 8 – Bulletproof Business: Protect Yourself Against The Competition by Ryan Stewman

 

There Bulletproofare only a few times while reading this that I remembered that this was a business book.  For the most part Ryan is just telling a story about how some interesting stuff happen in his life. It’s kind of like a train wreck in the sense that I just couldn’t help myself from looking at it but it made me squirm a few times and I felt bad for anyone caught in the wreck.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 8 – Bulletproof Business: Protect Yourself Against The Competition by Ryan Stewman

 

Just because I forgot it was a business book a few times doesn’t mean that there weren’t valuable lessons to be learned. Ryan’s approach in this book is to help the reader learn from his mistakes. He’s taken the long way around and still ended up ahead of most people in the race for the biggest bank account balance. He’s taken some risks and enough have worked in his favor that he’s in a position today to continue to gain respect and offer advice. He’ll willingly tell you that his time and advice are worth a lot of money these days.

It’s hard to believe how many crooks are in this world and unfortunately salesmen make up more than their fair share of those white collar criminals. Salesmen are likable and they have the ability to craft a story that makes sense of any scenario, it’s no surprise that a lot of great salesmen have been caught in unfortunate circumstances. Grant Cardone openly talks about a partnership he once had where the partner and he split and he calls that partner a crook. We all know about the Wolf of Wall Street, AKA Jordan Belfort, and the things he did while in the midst of some great “sales”. It’s no surprise then that in the world of sales even great salespeople get sold on someone from time to time, we all want to believe. Ryan was sold on some business partners, he’s been sold on a few women, he was sold on the trappings of the white picket fence and the required role he was “supposed” to fill. He was sold on who he should be and then he tried to sell other people that dream too.

The worst part of being a salesman is trying to sell something you don’t believe in. Ryan talks about selling and training something in the insurance industry but he really wasn’t into it. He wasn’t sold on it. For the first 3 quarters of this book Ryan wasn’t sold on who he was and it manifested itself in insecurities and bad decisions. He couldn’t rise above the fray because he didn’t know who he was and had no idea how to get out. If you aren’t authentic to yourself  it’s hard for anyone else to buy into you.

From a technical standpoint Ryan isn’t exactly a wordsmith but he crafts a story that keeps you interested. He keenly advertises his services and asks for the business in the pages before, during and after the story. He ends his chapters with a quick teaser about the next chapter to keep you motivated to get through the whole thing.The paragraphs, pages and chapters are short and in the sales world we work with a ton of people with shorter attention spans. It’s not our fault, we just crave the action and we’d rather be talking to people and learning on the go than actually sitting down and doing the work. Ryan references this behavior in the book, but he knows his audience too. Ryan is 100% himself and that’s often in expressed in language that might be considered crude. I don’t speak the way he does, but I don’t judge him for it just like I don’t judge a New Jersey accent vs an English accent. The message is important and maybe his message will actually come across to more people in his terms than someone prim and proper who doesn’t have the ability to connect with most sales people.

As human’s we are all sculpted by our past. His has brought him to the point where he has firmly taken the bull by the horns and refuses to let the bull win. I admire his tenacity and effort. He talks about doing the work and I put Ryan in the category of DOER. He does stuff. Period. Most of us just talk about it, but it’s too much risk to put ourselves out there. Ryan put in the effort and now he’s got the skills, to have both is a sure fire way to gain success. Effort X Skill = Success.

If you walk a mile in another man’s shoes maybe you can take the short-cut that Ryan is offering. You can get a glimpse into his history and perhaps you can come to the same conclusions that he did. You are accountable for your own success and failure. If you fail and it was someone else’s fault, think again because it’s your fault that your fate was in someone else’s hands. Take control and raise the minimum expectations of your life.

You can start buy buying his book and checking out his website. Go ahead and and check him out at www.clyxo.com/closer.

(FULL DISCLOSURE- Ryan sent me a copy of his book for Free, but I’ve paid to see his video’s, listen to his podcasts and read his sales strategies. He didn’t ask me to review his book, I just happen to be a member of his Facebook group and I’m on his email mailing list.)

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 7 – The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – by Grant Cardone

10xruleI once had an English teacher inform me that in order for my audience to actually receive and retain any kind of message I would need to tell them what I’m about to tell them, then actually tell them and finally tell them what I just told them. I had to hear this several times before it actually sunk in. Go ahead and  re-read that now a few times to get it out of the way.

 

 52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 7 – The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – by Grant Cardone

 

I find that the more I read these kinds of books the more that they blend together. If  you only worked harder and smarter than everyone else you’d be vastly more rewarded. That seems like basic common sense doesn’t it? The person that figures out a way to way to be more efficient and then ALSO out works you, well that person deserves massive success right?

Cardone talks a lot about the effort piece of the puzzle in this book, by the very title he wants you to work 10X more than the other person, but do it in the same amount of time everyone else has. It’s simple, yet tough to achieve otherwise there would be a ton of Grant Cardone clones running around. Well, there are probably a ton of Grant Cardone wannabe clones running around, but none have rivaled him yet today.  It’s easy to read the words and I can actually attest to the fact that doing just some of what Cardone talks about will change your life significantly. Why don’t more people take his advise at 100% or 1000% if we want to stick to the 10X rules?  I guess most of us just don’t want what he has bad enough, we are content to  keep the same social circle and status and we have adapted our lives to our income and tricked ourselves into thinking that’s all we need.  Most people earn what they need, not what they want.

Cardone goes strong in this book, but it’s palatable and not crass so it appeals to the masses. New salespeople and  those stuck in middle management for the past 20 years have all got a reason to read this book. The best part is that this guy really eats, sleeps and breathes what he preaches, he’s a product  of himself.   I’d have to imagine that he’s baffled that not everyone is as successful as he is. I truly believe that he intends to share every secret he has in the hopes that it helps the world and he can’t believe that the world is not literally knocking down his door for this info. It does seem that more and more of the world is taking notice.

Grant seems to write in a flurry, it’s well thought out but you can tell that he is a force to contend with and his willpower is a force to be reckoned with.  He says exactly what he means and then he tells you 29 more times because he’s passionate about success and what it takes to get there. It seems to be working. He 10X’d my English teacher, that’s for sure. Buy this book, but be warned, you’ll want to buy his other books and download his audio books and then watch him on Youtube and then go to his website and watch the 100’s of hours of video he has posted there. If you are going to pick a Mentor from afar, and basically that’s what you are doing when you choose to read a book like this you could do worse. If you go in though, be prepared to go all in, otherwise this is a useless addition to your book shelf. You buy this book to start the 10X system and way of life, not to pick up and put down again to get dusty.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 4 – Selling to anyone over the phone – Renee P. Walkup

This one is a bit of a cheat because I read the original edition almost 10 years ago and didn’t even realize that there was now an updated 2nd edition. I must say that the team improved and updated the content for us and it makes a SellingToAnyonedifference. I’m in a Call Center environment and on a daily basis I’m trying to adapt former face to face sales people into over the phone professionals. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks but this book makes a difference and helps the transition without a doubt.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 4Selling to anyone over the phone – Renee P. Walkup

 

 

This book is money. Many people in the world sell face to face.I get it, those professionals learned a skill and can read a customer’s body language to determine what the best course of action is. Imagine if you are selling cars though, and you were suddenly blind. Imagine if you were suddenly limited to only the pictures you could see in your mind. Would you still be able to sell to anyone?

I’ve heard stories of people going blind or deaf and being able to enhance their other senses to compensate. The same thing goes for sales skills. Selling over the phone is considered a disadvantage to most, but this book will help you turn it into an advantage. “Selling to Anyone over the Phone” is worth the price over and over again. If you work in a world where you close deals over the phone you need this book yesterday. I’m not a natural sales person, I’m not an extrovert and I can’t stand touching people and I certainly don’t want to look at you for half an hour. I can talk on the phone though.

I can create an image and I can paint a picture with words now. I can determine if the words you say are genuine and I can tell what motivates you to buy. I can hear pitch, tone, pace and still have time to listen to the actual words you are saying, which say so much more between the lines. I do a large part of what I do because of this book. I used to sell face to face which was a total disaster, but the original version of this book helped me close 1000’s of deals over the phone and this 2nd Edition is even better.

It takes time to implement the ideas in the book and it takes lots of practice. You’ll need to record your calls and take the time to really focus on your speech patterns but it can be done. You’ll be able to mirror your clients in a way that will allow you to get your true meaning across. I hear conversations every day where Party A says something with a particular meaning, but Party B interprets the meaning of the exact same words in a completely different way. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever said, ” No, I didn’t mean it that way.” The words you said were heard in the exact way that you said them, but the meaning taken from those words was completely different from what you intended. Does the intention of the word matter or does the interpretation? Even when there is clarification, the emotional residue from the 1st false interpretation is still there. If you put the practices of this book to good use you will limit the number of false interpretations, your meaning will be clear.

I’m a fan of this book. I’ve never read anything else by Renee Walkup or Sandra McKee, I’ve never even read their bios. I imagine in my minds eye that one is in sales and the other is in psychology because that is what the book feels like. It feels like smarter sales skills. If feels like an elegant dance when most sales people just trudge through the dance hall. After you read this book you’ll have a smirk on your face because you will know things that will make you seem like a super sales hero. Try it. I recommend it.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 3 – 3 Sales Tips from “THE ART of WAR” – Sun Tzu

There are very few books that are so sparse but have inspired so much commentary. The book itself was written more or lessThe Art of War about 2500 years ago and the first English Language versions didn’t show up until the early 1900’s. For roughly 2400 years this book was known in China but in very few other locations, now it’s virtually a household name in America.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #3 “THE ART of WAR” – Sun Tzu

 

First things first, I’m a Sales guy. I’m not a business mogul or Wall Street type. I know the book has been read and recently, (the last couple of decades are recent for a book that’s 2500 years old), The Art of War has been associated with ruthless business practices and the cold hearts of the corporate takeover world. I would like to think that today’s world has a lot more empathy than Sun Tzu’s time, but I grant you that the world is allowed to have a lot more empathy today due to progress and quality of life. Sun Tzu lived in a world where the End Justified the Means, we wouldn’t stand for that now. I’ll try to pull out some relevant bits for the Sales professional though, and there are some golden nuggets to be had.

When I say that the book is sparse, I mean it. It’s pretty much written in bullet point format. It’s more like an outline to a book, maybe that’s what makes this book so adaptable to other industries and situations. There is so much to fill in between the lines. I have to imagine that in 500 B.C. there wasn’t a lot of paper floating around. I would bet that writing material from something like bamboo would have been used and that the actual writing would have been painstaking to complete. The efficient use of words was likely essential to keeping the work accessible, transportable and replicate-able.  No matter the reason, the book is a quick read and that alone probably helps. That leads me to tip #1 today-

TIP #1 from the ART of WAR.  DON’T INFO DUMP.

It’s easy to consume some ideas which could easily have been made over complicated. The bullet point presentation reminds me that we don’t need to use flowery language or long drawn out scenarios to get our point across. If the point is valid, people will get it. Don’t tell a 30 minute story when a 3 minute bullet point presentation would have done the trick. People have been sold on Sun Tzu for centuries, follow his lead and give clear concise messages with functional examples.

TIP #2 from the ART of WAR. PLAN AHEAD RELENTLESSLY.

Sun Tzu basically lays out a contingency plan for every scenario. Based on his teachings, there were no tough decisions to make in the heat of the battle. There was a simple plan with slot closed options. Were the enemy troops garrisoned heavily or lightly? The answer didn’t matter so much because there was a solution to both options. The only thing that really mattered was accurate information and timeliness. Sales calls and presentations should be this well thought out. Whether or not you anticipated the objection or avoided it all together doesn’t really matter because you have a solution to every scenario. What matters is that you listen, observe and accurately assess the prospect, their problems and their ability/willingness to buy. Have a plan and selling anything to anyone is easy, unless it’s time to pack up and run to see another day. It’s OK to do that too if it’s the right choice. The trick is to plan ahead, so that you KNOW when it’s the right choice.

TIP #3 from the ART of WAR. CONSISTENCY IS BETTER THAN CHAOS.

It seems like a good portion of the book is dedicated to breaking the consistency of the enemy troops, while maintaining the consistency of his. He wants to create the right habits and practice like they battle. He wants a routine so that in times of War, his people are cool headed and able to follow commands. At the same time he wants to create chaos in his enemies troops to break their habits and force them to make a mistake. As long as Sun Tzu doesn’t make a mistake, he wins. If I’m in a sales environment I need to practice my sales techniques under all conditions to avoid getting flustered by a question at a crucial time. Consumer’s have skills too and they will use them to try and find out if your product or service is faulty.

There you have it, 3 sales tips from the ART of WAR. Now go read the book yourself! Click here to check it out.

4.5 Steps to know- When to ask for the Business.

Last week I was asked by an up and coming salesperson, “So, when would I know what Closing technique to use?”.  I dug a little deeper on this question and he wasn’t really wondering which close to use and how, he was really asking a much more fundamental question- “When do I Close?”.103764377_400x400_pad

 “The Buying Sign Close”

It seems that many of us are info/benefit dumping until we hear this line from the customer- “OK, so what do we do next?” and then we get the credit card or signed purchase agreement. Now lets be honest, the products or services we are presenting aren’t exactly new right? You probably have some competitor though it pains you to admit it and that competitor at least has a product or service in your same category. The customer isn’t giving you that massive buying sign because you didn’t ask them to. In answer to the salesperson’s question above I said, “I close when the conversation gets to the natural end. I prep customers and let them know that if I find a (product or service) that fits their needs I’ll ask for their business. In addition I also close whenever I hear the 3rd buying sign”. I realized we hadn’t covered the Buying Sign close or talked about when identifying when you’ve EARNED the right to close, so read below and Close more deals!

 

STEP #1 Listen and Identify Buying Signs. Buying Signs to me are any type of questions from a customer, even objections are buying signs to me. If someone is asking me questions about my product/service it usually means that they intend to BUY, even if it’s not from me. IF the customer didn’t want to do anything they wouldn’t prolong the conversation with questions. They’d try to get off the phone, elevator or whatever meeting I pinned them down to as quickly as possible, sometimes they don’t want to be rude but they still just want to get out of the room. Typical Buying Signs- So do you guys service your own product? Do you use local providers? How long have you been doing this? Can I fax you documents or do I need to mail them? How can I do business with a company or person I’ve never done business with before?

 

STEP #2 – Track the Buying Signs. I usually keep an internal count of the buying signs I’ve heard and depending on how strong they are I typically jump straight to this close after the 3rd buying sign. If the customer asks 3 serious questions about the service or product it’s time to ask for the business.

 

STEP #3 – Close. “I think it’s obvious we are going to do something here for you here today. While we are figuring out what fits your needs let’s agree to something. I’ve got to jump through a few hoops to get you the best (product or service), we’ve got to ask some Formality Questions, Put a Credit Card (or billing dept contact) on file and then confirm some more of your information while we tailor this order for you. What’s the card number or billing address? (Bridge Close works well here the key is the first 20 words which transitions to a close of choice).

 

STEP #4 Finalize App Details.  After I get the deposit I verify a few items like contact info and fill out any other details I may have missed earlier. THEN we go back to the structure of the product or service and I typically make a STRONG recommendation.  “So Mr Customer, no matter what we do today we are going to get something better than your current situation. In my professional opinion I recommend the XYZ for you, it has the better features, more for your time, money, ROI or offers peace of mind. I think that’s what you were looking for right?” Or “I’ve done enough files of this nature to be considered an expert here so I’m confident that we should move forward. I would like to wait to determine the exact amount of service you need until we have the appraised the situation. We typically start with  ABC  but let’s be conservative and say we’ll start with X amount of service. Can we start with this amount of service and then adjust it up or down after the test period?”

When I work a Buying Sign Close I frame the initial trial as a joint production with lots of feedback from the customer. The least amount of  service and the possible need for much for allows us to adjust things, typically for the better. Since we are happy with the worst case scenario that means we’ll be giving good news through the process and you’ve started the buying relationship.

 

STEP #4.5 ** BONUS TIP. The Strong Recommendation. I first learned this technique many years ago while working at a restaurant in Hawaii. Tourists would come in and they’d often ask about what Wine to order with a particular food. I was 21 and really had no palate or experience with wine but I asked a lot of questions of the bartender and people more familiar than I was. I made friends with a Sommelier and asked him how he handles this question. He said he makes a recommendation, backs it up with a few good reasons and sticks with it like it was the obvious choice. Pretty soon I was expertly recommending the Pacific Rim Riesling because the Sweet Flavor offset the Spicy Asian Fusion, the body was light and didn’t weigh down the experience and the acid cleansed the palate for the next bite of flavor. I soon found that no matter what I recommended, as long as I had a few good reasons for making the recommendation my customers went with my recommendation 90% of the time. The point here is that when we make a strong recommendation and back it up with a few good reasons our customers will listen to us, 90% of the time. Sometimes this is called the Law of Authority in Psychology circles, it’s scientifically proven to work!

 

Happy Selling and if you have any questions about this feel free to reach out to me!

SALES MO

Sales Momentum, what I call the SALES MO, is just like physical momentum.  It’s easier to keep it going than it is to start frKicktrasom scratch.  When I was 17 years old I went away to college, my family wasn’t particularly well off but I had a scholarship and a part time job.  My father bought me an old 1984 Chevy Luv pickup truck and that little truck got me back and forth to more than a few places.  I was not particularly mechanically inclined though and had no idea how to fix it when things went wrong.  For the better part of a year the battery was dead and I just dealt with it.  The truck was a manual stick shift, so I would just “POP” the clutch to get the motor running.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “Popping” the clutch, it basically entails you getting the vehicle moving fast enough to slam the vehicle into 2nd gear and the engine would magically start running.  The truck made a few noises when it ran, (we named the truck Gabby because she talked a lot), but it basically got my friends and I where we needed to go.  I learned to park the truck on a hill backed into a spot.  This way when it was time to go I’d just put it in neutral, release the parking break and wait until I had some speed before putting it into gear to start her up.  More than a few times though I’d let a friend borrow Gabby and this friend would find a much “better” spot right in front of our building and would manage to parallel park Gabby.

Now I ask you, have you ever tried to move a truck that won’t start-up out of a parallel parking spot?  Can you imagine having to push a truck 6 inches forward, stop it completely then crank the wheel and push it 6 inches backwards?  Not only is it hard to push a truck when the wheels are cranked, but it’s almost as hard to stop it once it’s going!  In those days bumpers were still for bumping,  at least that’s what I told myself and the body builder guy who drove that little white Geo Storm.

My point is this- Don’t parallel park your prospects.  If you block them in with nowhere to go it’s awfully hard to get your Sales Mo moving again and there is bound to be a few bumps and scratches along the way.  Harness the Sales Mo and you won’t have to worry about stalling out or getting run over.  Always say YES before you say NO.  Keep the conversation positive. No matter what a customer says, objects to or implies just start the next sentence with something spectacular like “GREAT!”, “PERFECT!”, “I LIKE IT!”, “EXCELLENT!” and keep the conversation moving forward.  If you try to correct the customer’s preconceived notions or convince them that their request is wrong you’ll be setting your self up for disaster.  Sales isn’t about getting into a verbal boxing match and seeing who the winner is, it’s not a debate or a competition. You don’t get paid to win the argument or to be “right”. You get paid to close deals, whatever you are selling needs to get sold. You do that by keeping the forward momentum, if a customer wants a blue suit give him a blue suit. Keep the SALES MO going!