Blog Archives

Be a Salesperson – Not a Politician (Perry Mason, Politics and Paychecks)

My latest cinematic masterpiece tries to explain the importance of answering questions that you are asked with actual answer as opposed to pivoting to something you think will make the questioner forget what he asked in the first place.

The Three Word Job Description

The following is from an actual job ad.

As the Account Executive, primary responsibilities will include outbound calling and selling, structuring, negotiating, and implementing contracts with eCommerce companies, Internet companies, and other relationships by performing the following duties:

  • Generate new leads and sources for leads to expand and grow specific partner programs
  • Seek out, research and qualify prospects
  • Close sales to attain and exceed quota goals
  • Collaborate with marketing department to develop strategies for establishing partnerships and business relationships
  • Customize solutions to fit client needs
  • Manage relationships and contracts with various prospects, clients, and partners in the eCommerce environment
  • Provide input to the management team on new product or service features, quality issues, and customer needs and demandsSales Activities

There’s nothing wrong with that description. It details some specific activities that the salesperson will perform
but does this job description really get to the essence of what the job is all about?
Here is an exercise I learned many years ago. The idea is to take any occupation and describe the primary objective Read the rest of this entry

Outside the Box and Ahead of the Curve

One of my favorite sketches from SNL’s  Wayne’s World  was when the guest star (memory eludes me) was a cool kid who was on Wayne’s show to announce what the new, cool word would be for the upcoming school year. That not only struck me as funny, it brought back memories of my own school days when it was very important to use the latest phrase.

The words seemed to evolve out of nowhere.   One day,we were showing approval to something or someone by saying it was “Neat.”  Then without warning we switched to “Groovy,” and then to “Boss,”  “Tough,” “Far-out” and on and on. Nobody really thought about who started it or why we all followed.

Think about it – do you have any idea who was the first person to wear a backwards baseball cap (other than actual baseball catchers – who have a legitimate reason.)  Read the rest of this entry

Sell the Gristle Not the Steak

Stay Right Here because These are The Good Old Days
When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license (yes – there were cars back then), the torch was passed to me  to become the official Grandma driver.  As my sister and brother before me, I now had the job of taking Grandma to the grocery store, where she educated me on how to select the best groceries.

Take frozen items from the back of the case; open the egg carton and make sure there are no cracks; pay close attention to the produce guy as he weighed your tomatoes or green beans.   These were some of the practical things that she taught me.   Other than the now extinct produce guy, I continue to follow Grandma’s rules especially as they relate to business.

Most of them made perfect sense to me — until one fateful day! Read the rest of this entry

If Client Trust Isn’t Your #1 Priority, You May Want to Turn in Your Salesman’s Badge

Part One of A Two-Part Rant On Integrity

If you think that your well rehearsed sales techniques, good looks, charm, firm handshake, thousands of Twitter followers,  a flash intro on your website, a full color ad, or the magnetic sign on the side of your vehicle will close a sale for you – think again.

It’s all about building relationships with clients.  Whether it’s a personal relationship or a business relationship, there are three elements to building and maintaining something strong and enduring.

  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Trust

Earning trust starts from day one. It can be as simple as actually thinking about what you say – which is all too rare these days. When  someone first asks if your product or service can help them, the most common answer is something like,  “Absolutely.  You’ve already missed the mark.

The answer, of course, should be in your own words but the message absolutely must be   Read the rest of this entry

How Vilfredo Pareto Might Be Limiting Your Sales Team

Vilfredo Pareto

Somewhere around 1906, economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of its citizens.  Sometime later he noted that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the pods.   Thus, the well-known 80/20 rule was born.  During his career he studied this as it relates to distribution of wealth and income. As a side note, his work was very controversial during the rise of Fascism

In the 1940s, Management Consultant Joseph Juran applied this principle to business. “80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers” and so on.

Today it is primarily a “given” that 80% of the sales come from 20% of the salespeople. A debate crops up from time to time regarding the best use of a sales manager’s efforts.  Should he nurture the top 20%, the middle 60% or the bottom 20%.  Several schools of thought exist as to the best answer.

Here’s the rub.  Many people consider the 80/20 rule as a truth.  It may be a truth but it most assuredly is not an absolute truth.

The best example of truth Vs. absolute truth I have heard is this:  Read the rest of this entry

DWI – Don’t Wing It! (Well, maybe once)

There are going to  be moments when you are faced with having to answer a question or concern from a client or prospect that you’ve never had to answer before.   You have two options.

You can take the question under advisement and promise a response after you research it.  Or you can improvise an answer.  Which choice you make is Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Talk About You Now. What Do You Think Of My Hair?

Did you ever have a conversation with someone who talks like that?  Would you buy anything from them?

Guess what – the rest of the world is just like you.  Most people are turned off by someone who speaks only about themselves.  The instinct is to get away as fast as possible.

To bond with others and have them look forward to talking with you, you’ll have to demonstrate that you are interested in them.  If someone’s goal is to avoid you, what are the odds that they will buy what you sell?

You can’t fake interest either Read the rest of this entry

Lose the Lingo: Talk to Clients in Humanspeak

Whatever your profession it is likely that you know more about it than your client/prospect.  In fact, that is probably one of the reason he chose you.  So when you’re speaking to him don’t speak to him in lingo – phrases that mean something to someone inside your industry but will not necessarily mean anything to a layman [laywoman] [layperson].

There are a few reasons why you need to speak human – not in professionalese.

  1. Many people will not know what you mean.
  2. If they have to constantly ask you to explain what you’re saying it can make them feel like they are deficient in some way.
  3. If they pretend they do understand and don’t ask, then they are not getting the message you are trying to deliver.
  4. It can make you look pompous and arrogant.  You are not speaking with them in order to show off how smart you are.

For the most part people would much rather have a salesperson say something like “Based on my understanding of your needs – this product will get it all done for you” as opposed to giving me a long dissertation on the inner workings of the product only to have the explanation end with “Based on my understanding of your needs – this product will get it all done for you.”

The caveat to this is that there are some personality types that want to know every gory detail. You’ll know who those folks are quickly when they keep asking detailed questions.


Why B2B Sales People Should Be Working on Days Surrounding Holidays

If you’re a B2B sales person with even a modicum of experience you’ve learned that if you have a prospect or client that is tough to reach, a proven technique is to give them a call during off-hours.  Calling them early before their day hits full throttle or calling them after the end of the work day when they are less likely to be embroiled in the middle of a meeting or project give you greater odds of having a meaningful conversation.

If you do reach your contact, he will likely be impressed with your diligent follow up, which raises your credibility in the universe of sales people who are after him. If you don’t reach him – leave a voice mail.  He will still be impressed with your diligence.  You can’t really lose.

Same rule applies to the days just before and just after a holiday.This is one of the most successful sales techniques, in my experience.

While you may not reach your contact when you do this, you certainly won’t reach him if don’t.  As above, the odds are that he will make note of the fact that you are working when most people are not.

If you want to take it to the next level, just make a round of calls to your existing clients – just to wish them a happy holiday.

Some great times to reach out:

  • Mid-afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving
  • Late morning on the day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • December 26
  • New Year’s Eve
  • January 2

I’m not advocating that you give up all your personal time and work 24/7.  I am far from being a workaholic.  I think it is counterproductive. Having a balanced life makes you much more successful at your job.  What I’m suggesting actually takes very little time.  The fact is that you won’t reach most of the people you call – but if you do, the contact may actually have the time to talk with you with fewer distractions.

So if you spend an hour on Black Friday making a few calls – go in an hour late on Monday.

This is about differentiation.  I doubt that your competitors are doing this.

Marketing Is Worthless If You Don’t Convert Leads

There are many different types of marketing, each having a specific goal. At a high level though all marketing has the same goal – To generate interest in your product. It is about getting people to raise their hands and acknowledge that they are aware of what you sell, and there is a possibility that they are interested in making a purchase.

There a soft value to putting your name in front of as many people as you can. Brand awareness can be critical to a company’s success. While it’s not a bad thing to increase awareness of your product or service the question becomes that in terms of ROI, marketing programs are often measured using circumstantial evidence.

The bottom line goal of every company is to increase profit.  That’s why profit is on “the bottom line” of a financial analysis.  There are only two ways to improve profitability – increase revenue or decrease expenses.  The prime revenue source for a company is sales.

Take a look at this sales results graph from a hypothetical company that launched a new marketing campaign in January and ended it in May.  “Sales Results” is typically defined as orders that are delivered and invoiced.

With complete certainty we can state that the marketing program was PROBABLY a driving factor in the sales increase that began in February, continued to rise until about 30 days after the program ended. We deem the marketing program a success.Are there other factors that could be the root cause of the increase in sales?  Of course there are.  Better inventory management, improved shipping measures, better invoicing procedures – just to name a few.

So how do you actually measure the success of a marketing plan if not on sales results. It depends on the objective of the  program.  The most common type of program for small and medium businesses generally has the objective of increasing the number of “Leads”, “Inquiries” or “Requests for information.”

So at the end of the day if the number of leads received during the run of a program went up, the program can be declared a success regardless of the sales results.   Sort of like a surgery that is deemed successful regardless of whether the patient lives or dies.

What exactly is the value of a lead?  I would submit that if you don’t do anything with the lead, it has absolutely no value.  Another way of putting it is this: “A Lead and $2.25 will get buy you a ride on the subway.”

Soooooo – acquiring the lead is important, but selling to the prospect is equally important.  If you don’t have a specific plan to follow-up and close as many of the leads as possible, the money you spend on marketing could be wasted.

As Jerry Seinfeld might say “You know how to GET the lead, you just don’t know how to SELL to the lead.”

Top 5 Cold Call Openings to Alienate Prospects

If you’re a regular reader, you know my thoughts on cold calling. For those of you who are new the neighborhood let me lay it out.

  • Cold Calling is a function of marketing – not sales.
  • It is not the most productive use of your time.
  • If you find that getting in the “cold call zone” works for you – knock yourself out.

If you do choose to prospect in this fashion, it’s pretty easy to alienate the prospect in about 3 seconds.  The commonality of these technique is that they from the the assumption that you can fool someone in talking with you before they learn you are a sales person. Trying to trick someone is akin to saying that you are smarter than they are – not the best way to begin a positive relationship.

Here are some surefire methods to alienate prospects instantly.


Number 5: Hi, my name is Felix. The company I work for is looking for a  top [profession] in your area to partner with us.

Number 4: Hi John, my company is in a bit of a bind. We’ve acquired some highly qualified sales leads and don’t have anyone in your town to work them. Could you help us out by responding to these hot prospects?

Number 3: Hi John, my company is doing a survey of people in [industry] and I was wondering if you’d be interested in being a part of it.


Number 2: Hi John,  Are you making the most money you can as a [profession]?


Number 1: Are you closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community!

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