Discounting: Respect yourself or else your prospects won’t!

Summer time is usually slow for us just like countless other organizations out there.

Last June, I was discussing our services with a prospect and he asked for a discount.

This post isn’t about whether or not should you discount, there’s strong arguments on both sides of the subject.

So here’s what the prospect and I agreed to: I gave him a 25% discount since it was our slow time as long as he signed the agreement by the end of the month. I wrote it clearly in the proposal that the discount was null and void by the certain date.

The deadline came and passed and I closed out his file.

Later on, I heard from my prospect out of the blue that they wanted to move forward and asked for the same discount.

I politely told them no. I wanted their business but didn’t need it. I was in a better negotiating position since things have picked up.

We discussed things and I agreed to give him a 12.5% discount rather than 25%. He wasn’t thrilled but I resent him the proposal with the new deadline in writing.

Guess what? He signed the agreement and we are good to go.

If you give in too quickly, in my opinion, I don’t believe the prospect will respect you. Your deadline and word is no longer good and they know if they push hard enough, you’ll give in.

Don’t!

If a girl meets a guy at a bar and gives in quickly by going home with him after the first night, the guy may not respect her.

Same way with your prospects. Stand your ground. Tell them no politely and professionally.

Respect yourself. If you don’t, the prospects won’t either.

How to blow an inbound sales call in 10 seconds

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Just like countless sales professionals, I use my cell phone as my main number to be reached out since I’m mobile and travel quite a bit to see clients and prospects.

On Thursday afternoon, I happened to get a call from Ontario, Canada.

Usually I answer the phone in some sort of variance of, “Good afternoon, this is Ray.”

I had just gotten an email via LinkedIn from a company in Canada and thought it was this company following up by phone so I answered “Hello?”.

He didn’t identify himself but started asking questions so I assumed it was a follow up sales call.

It wasn’t! It was a tech company who came across my website and was interested in my lead generation services.

Ouch!

I tried to explain this to the gentleman but no success and I wasn’t able to get the conversation on track.

2 takeaways:

1.  If you’re not ready to take a call for whatever reason, don’t answer it and let it go to voicemail. It should be obvious to me after doing this for 12 years, but we all make sales mistakes.

2. We all get inundated with calls and sometimes we don’t know if they’re personal or professional. Always err on the side of being friendly professional. This guy who I checked out on LinkedIn was part of a technology company which is in my target audience and I blew it.

There’s an old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. How true!

Please don’t make the mistake I just made. It could literally cost you thousands of dollars in revenue.

A sales lesson watching “A Few Good Men”

Hello everyone!

The other night, my wife and I were flipping through the tv channels looking for something to watch. With it being summer time, reruns were on and the KC Royals weren’t playing.

We ended up watching “A Few Good Men”. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve seen that movie or parts of it. It’s a great movie with memorable lines.

(You can’t handle the truth!)

I know I’m stating the obvious here but the more you see a movie, read a book or article, etc, the easier it is to recall things.

I know a ton of lines in that movie because I’ve seen it so many times.

How does this apply to sales? The more often you read sales books, articles, and videos, the easier it is to recall these things when in a sales situation.

Rather than the information being faint and fuzzy, it’s more often fresh and clear.

The more you view something, the easier it is to recall.

We wouldn’t want our dentist or doctor not to keep their skills sharp on the latest tactics and techniques. We sales professionals should hold ourselves to the same standards.

5 reasons to follow up by phone after sending a sales email

Happy Summer everyone!

It’s tough to get a hold of sales prospects. It’s even worse in the summer when people go on vacation.

Here are a 5 reasons to follow up by phone after sending out a sales email:

1. Your sales email might have landed in the sales prospect’s junk mail folder and they never saw it.

2. The sales prospect may no longer work there and the email didn’t bounce back to alert you or it’s being forwarded to their replacement.

3. Whether it’s generational or a preference, some people prefer to communicate by phone over email.

4.  Some people prefer to PROCESS information verbally instead of through written forms.

5. Emails are too easy to delete, a phone call or voicemail stands out.

Hope this helps! Continue having your best summer ever!

I fired a prospect and it felt great!

Happy Spring everyone!

In March 2012, I reached out to a prospect, we engaged and he gave me a verbal commitment to move forward.

(Yes, I know that verbal commitments mean nothing legally, and yes he was the decision maker.)

Later that July, the prospect changed his mind and said they were moving forward with another company, explained his reasoning and I closed his file.

In March 2014, I was clearing my Salesforce.com and cleaning up data and reached out again to the same prospect. He responded that it was good timing to engage again. We spoke several times and and ultimately, they didn’t move forward with us. I decided to let things go and move on.

Several months later, this prospect reached out to me via LinkedIn email and wanted to restart conversations. This was him reaching out to me.

We had more discussions and he introduced me to his Director who would be heading up this initiative.

Long story short, he waffled and I may not have done a good job of building trust or value.

I finally emailed the CEO and said I won’t be pursuing him anymore as a client. I gently reminded him that he reached out to me to get moving on the project. I left the door open that when he was serious enough to talk, that I’d love to have him as a client.

I haven’t heard back from him since. Not sure what his motive was for restarting talks. Perhaps other priorities and not enough time.

Sales reps and producers: it’s okay to fire a prospect. Call them out when they are stalling and won’t give you a reason why things keep dragging out. Be bold but be polite and respectful. No need to have false hope on landing new clients if the prospect has no intention of hiring you. It will save you a lot of emotional energy and time.

You can always make more money. You can never reclaim your time. Get honest with yourself on your sales pipeline. If in doubt, call the prospect and get their intentions and decision on moving forward or not. Lots of prospects and people are conflict avoiders. Don’t keep a lot of sales prospects in your sales funnel if they have no intention of doing business with you.

Don’t take “No” personally, you never “Know”

I work out at the gym 5 days week. Unfortunately I don’t eat healthy as consistently as I should and it neutralizes my workouts but such is life.

I see this gal in her 40’s who’s married with 2 kids working out quite a bit at the gym. She’s in shape and always seems to have a smile on her face. We exchange short conversations and pleasantries from time to time.

Last week I asked how her family was doing. She said her husband wasn’t doing too good. I asked if she meant physically or emotionally. She said both and told me that her husband was going through chemo treatments. I expressed my condolences and told her I’d be praying for him and the family.

How does this relate to sales and prospecting?

You never know what’s going on in your sales prospect’s lives. Both personally and professionally.

Professionally: Is the company merging with another one (Comcast)? Is the company going out of business (Radio Shack)? Did the prospect’s boss yell at them this morning? Was there a critical client issue that came up that day? Did they just lose a key person? Are they moving offices soon? Did they lose a big account that day?

Personally: Did a family member just pass away? Are they going through a divorce? Did they get in a car wreck recently? Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Did their pet just pass away?

I could go on and on but I hope you catch my drift.

When you reach out to someone on the phone, you don’t know what they’re going through. Don’t take it personally if someone tells you “No” or “No interested” and hang up on you. Move on and try back another time.

Just like the gal from the gym, you never “know”, so don’t take “no” personally.

Happy Monday everyone!

The Serenity Prayer and Sales Prospecting

I’m sure you’ve read or seen the Serenity Prayer many times in your lifetime:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

I was reading an article and came across this prayer again. It started making me think in the area of sales prospecting and cold calls.

I can’t control the weather, economy, luck, timing or company decisions.

BUT I can control the number of sales cold calls I make. I CAN control the amount of networking I initiate. I CAN control the number of referrals I ask for. I CAN control my sales activity and effort and hard work.

I may not be able to control the results fully but I choose to be responsible for what’s in my control.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Photo Credit: https://www.posterama.co/collections/serenity-prayer-posters/products/serenity-prayer-by-reinhold-niebuhr-poster

I misspelled my prospect’s last name on the proposal!

I recently was referred to a VP of Sales for a technology company based in Iowa but had a local presence here in Kansas City.

There have been several clients I’ve never met in person before.

This was different. We chatted by phone, had lunch when he was in town and exchanged several emails and his name and signature were in his emails.

I placed a “K” instead of a “G” in his last name and emailed over the proposal.

He noticed it immediately just like I would if someone misspelled my name. He pointed it out and fairly asked if he should be concerned about my question to detail.

Ironically I’m really good with remembering names and spellings. I blew this time.

I apologized profusely and corrected it and he signed up to become a client.

2 takeaways which I know I’m stating the obvious:

1. Take extra time and proofread and double check every proposal that goes out.

2. When you make a mistake, apologize profusely and immediately.

Thankfully he was gracious enough to point it out and not let my mistake kill the deal.

No matter how long we’ve been in sales, it’s the little things that count and make the difference.

Sales Lesson Learned From A Recent Presidential Debate

(Disclaimer: I’m a registered independent voter.)

I watched about an hour of of a recent Republican debate and then I went to bed.

I won’t go into the subject matter of the debate or my opinion on the issues or the candidates. It’s irrelevant.

One of the rules last night was that once a moderator asked a question, the candidate had one minute to answer the question with a 30 second rebuttal.

Sales takeaway: Is your sales or marketing message clear, concise and to the point? Can you articulate your value proposition in one minute or less?

If not, why?

Remember, people have attention spans shorter than a goldfish.

(The human attention span went from 12 seconds in 2002 to 8 seconds in 2013. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.)

Ouch!

People are distracted, overworked and too busy to sit through a rambling speech about what you do. Less is more. Get to the point. Get to the point quickly.

Allergies, Pain and Sales Hunting

I’m a typical guy. I don’t go see the doctor unless somethings really wrong.

Until last week, I hadn’t seen a doctor since June 2005, when my wife strongly suggested I go in for a yearly physical. We had just gotten married and she said I should see a doctor. I visited my doctor and everything checked out fine.

The past month I’ve been struggling with sinuses and allergies and at times, I’ve felt miserable constantly blowing my nose and dealing with watery eyes.

(Compared to cancer and other illnesses, sinuses are very minor.)

So I found an allergist doctor and went in and got checked out and he made some recommendations.

It took me being miserable and slightly in “pain” to finally call the doctor and get in.

What does this have to do with sales hunting and sales prospecting?

Most prospects tend to buy solutions that solves their “business” pain before they buy solutions that will enhance their company.

People will reach for an aspirin to comfort their headache before they buy vitamins to make themselves feel even better.

When reaching out to prospects, ask them questions that brings up their “pain”.

Take care of their “pain” with your solutions and you’ll have success in sales.