1/4 Inch Hole or 1/4 Inch Drill?

I came across 2 articles this week on selling with features and benefits instead of outcomes and results.

They used the same exact illustration: “Each and every year, millions of 1⁄4-inch drill bits are sold, yet nobody buying any one of these 1⁄4-inch drill bits actually wants a 1⁄4-inch drill bit. Then, why do they buy them? Because they want a 1⁄4-inch hole!” Read more

The Presidential Election and Sales Prospecting

I have some slightly bad news for you regarding the upcoming election in November:

No matter who wins the 2016 presidential election, unless your phone is ringing off the hook or you’re up to your ears in referrals, you are still going to need to be proactive and reach out to prospects by phone or in person.

You can’t control the weather. (See Hurricane Sandy!)

You can’t control the election. (Unless you’re a mega donor!)

You can’t control other companies. (Companies merge and get acquired all the time.)

You can’t control other executives. (Executives change jobs or get fired.)

Mark Cuban said best: “The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.” Read more

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!

A Short Tale of Overtalking the Sale

My wife and I make it a consistent habit to give away 10% of our income to our church, charities, and other organizations that cross our path.

Recently we received a letter from her college alma mater asking for money which is fine and expected from them on a yearly basis.

That also meant we would be getting a phone call as well.

We finally got a call on our home phone and we previously agreed to a dollar figure to give to her college. It wasn’t the best time to take a phone call but I wanted to get it over with and continue on with our nightly activities.

The gal sounded scripted, canned and very mechanical. I finally cut her off and told her we’d be happy to give and for the amount and that we’d send it in that week.

Well, the gal kept talking and talking. She was more concerned about getting done with her script than she was about recognizing the cues and ending the call with a donation she could add to her credit.

How guilty are us sales development folks of missing cues and overtalking the sale? I know I am.

When a prospect says “yes” to you about moving forward, recognize the cues, gladly and graciously accept the order and write it up. It’s okay to exchange pleasantries obviously, but don’t talk yourself out of a new client. Just because it’s important for us to want to share something with the client doesn’t mean they want to hear it.

We may in the process share too much information and cause the prospect to change their mind and give them something else to think about. Read your audience!

The power of a handwritten note

This isn’t the first article on handwritten notes and it certainly won’t be the last.

My wife and I have a sitter we use for date nights, doctor visits, etc. I’ve known this gal for over 10 years from church.

We recently referred her to a colleague of mine who have a little boy so they can have someone for date nights and other events.

On Saturday we received in the snail mail a small thank you card and a gift card to Chili’s from her thanking us for referring her to my colleague.

Wow! That was unexpected. And I’m not referring to the monetary value of the gift card.

We in sales all know after gaining a new client or referral that we should send a handwritten thank you. But we don’t. I think we get so busy we simply forget to.

3 quick observations:

1. How often do you get a handwritten note by snail mail these days? Seriously? It’s rare. Just by doing this small task more often, you’ll stand out.

2. It was unexpected and it brightened my day. Lately my allergies have been flaring up and I feel physically drained. This little act made my afternoon.

3. How likely am I going to refer our sitter to other couples and friends who need occasional babysitting help? Very much so! She took the time to send us a small note. She didn’t have to and I knew she was appreciate that we passed her name along. She stood even more by thanking us in writing.

So what can the power of a handwritten note do in your sales world?

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!