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Breaking Down a Bad Sales Voicemail

By Jeff Beals

As a sales consultant, I enjoy analyzing the various voicemail solicitations I receive each week.  Like you, I receive a lot of them.  Here is a transcript of a voicemail I received just yesterday:

“Hi Jeff.  My name is Zach, and I’m with [Company Name].  I hope you’re doing fantastic, man.  Uh, the reason for my reach-out is pretty simple.  My company, [Company Name], has a tool that identifies businesses that visit your website—show you what they look at even if they don’t actually contact you through your contact forms.  I work with a couple clients in your space.  I wanted to see if this was maybe something you wanted to learn more about.  We offer a free trial so you can see how the tool works for yourself.  Give me a call ###-###-####. Thank you.”

Now that you’ve read the transcript, I have one question for you.  Be honest. Would you call this guy back?

I chose not to call him back, not because I wanted to be rude, mean or inconsiderate.  I chose not to call him back, because he gave me no compelling reason to call.  Given that I am overloaded with stuff to do, I’m not going to allocate any precious time to call someone I don’t know, from a company I have never heard of and who gave me no compelling reason to call him.

Let’s break it down – what’s wrong with this voice mail?

1. The wording sounds like every other “salesman” in the world.  I recommend you avoid using terms like “reach-out” and “clients in your space,” because they sound like cheesy corporate speak.

2. Because I don’t know this person, I think it’s a little too informal to refer to me as “man.”  Some people might disagree with me on this.  The guy’s voice sounded very young.

3.  He started talking right away about HIS company and what HIS offering does.  Instead, he should talk about what matters to ME, the prospect.  His message would have been more effective had it started with something like this: “Business owners like you are missing out on countless customers, because you don’t fully understand who is visiting your website and what they are reading.”  See the difference?  Talk about what you believe matters to the prospect and not about yourself.  Frankly, I (and pretty much every other prospect in the world) couldn’t care less about the offerings of a company I’ve never heard of.

4. If you have to mention a free trial in your initial conversations, it means you lack confidence in your offering and/or you have done nothing to establish value.  When someone pushes the free trial too soon, in my mind, it’s code for “the offering is not good.”

Voicemail is a critically important prospecting tool.

The vast majority of prospecting calls go to voicemail.  Some sales pros gripe and grumble when they are automatically routed to a prospect’s voicemail.  They complain, that “nobody ever answers the damned phone!”

It is true that prospects are getting harder to reach.  It is also true that decision makers are more likely to let calls from unrecognized phone numbers go to voicemail.

But don’t consider voicemails to be a bad thing; see them as opportunities, little advertisements that can be customized exactly to each prospect’s unique situation.  Because you are most likely going to get voicemail whenever you call, it makes sense that you put a lot of thought and effort into each voicemail.

The key is to leave a voice mail that captures a prospect’s attention by relating to what truly matters to him or her.  If you leave voice mails about your company or your product’s features and benefits you are almost guaranteed not to get a call back.

Is your company planning a sales kickoff meeting this year?  At most companies, these meetings are filled with product-centric training sessions, boring PowerPoint slides and bleary-eyed sales reps wishing they were somewhere else.

I deliver entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Let’s help your sales team:

  • Bring new prospects into their pipelines
  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase average deal size
  • Sell value so they don’t have to compromise on price
  • Get motivated to crush it in 2019

Check out my Sales Training Menu with some new training courses for 2019.  Give me a call at 402-510-7468 to discuss a first-quarter sales training program or simply reply to this email.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

How Do You Cope When the Sales Profession is Rough?

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say you are in the running for a particularly large deal.

You invest countless hours and other resources to win the business. For a while, it looks promising. You build a trusting relationship with the primary decision maker and have demonstrated how your offering perfectly fits their need. The prospect starts using phrases like “When we work together…” and “You will be responsible for…” and “We really need you…” You now consider the decision maker to be a friend.

Then suddenly your main contact starts being vague and evasive and is slow in returning calls. Two weeks later, the decision maker, your new “buddy,” sheepishly tells you they chose a different provider. It makes no sense to you that the other company was chosen, because they don’t provide the things that the prospective client originally told you were the biggest priorities. You feel frustrated, defeated and misled. Worse yet, you were counting on that business and it vanished. You’re incredulous and wonder, “Why did they lie to me?”

If this hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky and know that it will probably happen in the future.  Working in sales can be very frustrating.  One of the most important skills a sales practitioner can possess is the ability to bounce back when life punches you in the gut.

Given all the pressure in this business, here are a few ideas to help you handle stress, avoid burnout and stay motivated: 

1. To cope with the inevitable rejection in a sales career, concentrate on your victories. Celebrate each one of them in your own way. Some people will tell you that if you simply expect success, you don’t need to celebrate victories. I disagree. Appreciate everything.

2. Keep in mind that selling is a noble profession. Without sales activity, the wheels of commerce grind to a halt. Your work creates jobs and feeds families. Sales is the lifeblood of your company. Without you and your colleagues, there would be no company.

3. Remember that character is king. Focus on people – the hopes and dreams of the clients you serve. Draw inspiration and motivation from the people who surround you. When you remember that the things you sell have real impacts on real people, it helps you ride through the rough patches.

4. Embrace the competitive side of sales.  Sales is game. Try to accumulate little (and sometimes big) victories each day. Playing to win removes the drudgery of day-to-day work.

5. Take pride in your resilience. It feels good once you have successfully persevered through difficult times. Remember that feeling anytime you feel hopelessness and then do what it takes to feel that way again.

6. Make it fun. Those who don’t find ways to enjoy their work typically don’t survive long in a brutally competitive industry. Find the joyful and positive aspects of your work and focus on them.

7. Tell the truth even when it hurts. Integrity leads to success. You will be rewarded with high levels of client retention.

8. And finally, as you sell today, imagine what your legacy will be years down the road. Your work in sales literally shapes the future. I’d say that’s rather significant.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

The Other Part of Goal-Setting: What Will You Stop Doing?

By Jeff Beals

Hopefully, you have set your 2019 goals by now, but there’s still time if you haven’t. Either way, there’s an important part of goal setting that you might not have considered:  What are you going to stop doing?

The beginning of a year is a good time to declutter your business and your life.  The longer you’ve been working in sales, the more unnecessary stuff you accumulate in your brain, on your calendar and in your job description.  Sometimes that stuff needs to be purged.

Salespeople are notorious for adding things to their plate without taking things off.  Why?  Salespeople tend to be ambitious and very confident in their abilities.  They want multiple ways to prospect even if one prospecting method hasn’t paid off much in the past.  They tend to be independent personalities, rugged individualists who think they can do it all.  Sales professionals know they need to persevere in an eat-what-you-kill environment, so they don’t give up or accept defeat lightly.

Those are great traits, essential for long-term success in sales, but they are traits that can burn you out if you’re not careful.

Since there is great power in decluttering, here are a few things you might consider stopping:

Blowing off leads

Fifty percent of sales leads never receive proper follow-up.  That is probably the greatest waste of resources in the sales world.  If you let leads fall through the cracks because you’re focusing on less important things, by all means, stop doing it.

Poor Qualification

Stop wasting time on people who will never buy.  For whatever reason, many sales reps latch onto prospects who look good on the surface, but deep down, you know they’ll never buy from you.

Networking for the sake of networking 

Some sales people never miss an event.  They are on umpteen boards and committees and are always running from one meeting to the next.  Why do they over commit and run themselves ragged just trying to keep up with all of it?  Prospecting!  They are afraid, they’ll miss out on their next dream client if they are not at every event.  While I’m a big proponent of prospecting through networking, you must be efficient.  If a time-chewing obligation is not regularly producing convertible leads, don’t trick yourself into believing you have to be there.

Chasing Shiny Objects

Many sales practitioners are looking for silver bullets, anything that could save them from researching the right prospects and picking up the phone to call them.  If you have been hoping that social media can generate all prospects you need, you’re probably coming up short.  Stop it.

Lack of Focus

Stop wasting time on non-sales functions.  Sales professionals are often drafted by upper management to serve on company-wide projects or task forces.  This is especially true if you are a senior leader in the sales division.  Sales people tend to have first-hand knowledge of customers and buying trends, so they are valuable contributors to these company-wide groups.

But be careful.  I’ve seen sales professionals sucked into so much committee work having nothing to do with sales that they have hardly any time left to sell.  The United Way, for instance, is a fine organization, but do we really want our sales reps on the United Way employee committee instead of working the phones and hitting the streets?  Sales is the lifeblood of the company; we need all sales hands on deck.

Would you like to know the single most important thing to stop?  Counter-productive thinking.  No matter how successful you are, you probably cling to some negative ideas.  Every sales rep is at least occasionally afflicted with self doubt.  Whatever negative things you harbor in the deep recesses of your brain, now is the time to perform a Japanese decluttering miracle on them.

So, consider this permission to declutter your sales career and liberate yourself.  What do you need to stop?

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Overcome Social Discomfort at Networking Events

By Jeff Beals

While preparing to go to a networking event, have you ever worried, “What if I don’t know anyone?”

It’s a common concern, but knowing nobody at a networking event is actually a blessing if you have the right attitude.

Not knowing anyone forces you to use your networking skills. Too many people will go to a function and sit in the corner with their friends, co-workers, spouse, whoever. That’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do that, just go to a restaurant.

If you find networking intimidating, you’re not alone. Many professionals who are good at networking have had to work hard to make it look that way. Sure, some people are naturally gregarious, but they are the exception, not the norm.  It is natural to feel tinges of uneasiness when you attend a networking function by yourself where you know nobody.

Here are eight things you can do to make you feel more comfortable:

1. Practice

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rehearsing how you will act in a networking encounter in the quiet privacy of your home or office.  Some people even practice in front of a mirror.

2. Observe the Masters

Think of someone you know who is socially gifted, very at ease working a room. Watch that person. Study that person. Think how you can imitate him/her. Each time you go to a networking event, do something he/she does. Instead of reinventing the networking wheel, figure out how you can mimic someone who has already figured it out.

3. Hold a Drink

Holding a drink at a social function can help you be more comfortable.

If you’re a non-drinker, there is nothing wrong with holding a soda or virgin cocktail. The drink is useful, because it gives you something to do with your hands.

Just be careful not to become intoxicated. You don’t want to do anything that would embarrass your company or damage the reputation you are working so hard to build. Some networkers will order one drink and nurse it for a couple hours, just taking infrequent sips. I know of one person who orders a 7-Up with just a tiny amount of alcohol in it. That way, it smells like a drink, but there’s not enough live ammo in it to compromise his faculties.

4. Positive Vision

Another way of dealing with shyness is to envision success before going to an event. Like a coach mentally preparing athletes for a big game, you can increase your likelihood for success by imagining yourself doing well in a social situation. Sit down and envision yourself saying the right things, using good interpersonal skills and being professionally assertive. If you do this regularly, you will evolve into a graceful networker.

5. Brush It Off

Operating out of your comfort zone can increase introversion tendencies.  Some networkers worry they will say the wrong thing and sound stupid.  Others are afraid to “interrupt” someone at a party. Others fear they might be “rejected” when they reach out to another person. Even as an established professional, it is an unpleasant experience to introduce yourself and attempt to carry on a conversation with someone who is clearly uninterested in you. When it happens to you, just brush it off and go to the next person.

When someone gives you a cold shoulder, it likely means that person’s problems are greater than yours.

6. Pair Busting

Periodically, you will find yourself at a networking event, standing by yourself with nobody to talk to. You look around the room and everyone is already engaged in conversation with someone else.  There are no other “single” people. It can feel unnerving. When this happens, it’s time to be a pair buster.

Simply look around for a pair of people and walk toward them. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re interrupting. Just go up to the pair and introduce yourself.  Be assertive.  Sometimes it helps to say, “Mind if I join you?” in a joking sort of way. Ninety-five percent of the pairs you bust open, will welcome you.  The other five percent are not worthy of your attention.

7. Welcome Other Busters

When you are already talking to someone else and a third person tries to bust into your pair, be sure to make that person feel welcome. Treat the conversational newcomer the same way you would like to be treated. Don’t act as if you’re inconvenienced. Just introduce yourselves and allow the person to feel part of the group.

The tone of your voice and your body language will help make such a person feel more welcome. Slightly turn your body toward the new person. If the person comes in mid-conversation, explain what you have been talking about in an effort to bring the new person up to speed.

8. Connecting

Networking gives you the opportunity to be a “connecter,” a person who introduces two people to each other. Go out of your way to connect others to each other. If you connect two people who end up doing business together, you have earned social capital. The two people who profited from that relationship will always appreciate you and owe you a debt of gratitude.

Connecting also helps mitigate shyness. Instead of focusing on the stress of networking, make it your mission to find people you already know but who don’t know each other. You could make a game out of it.

Attention Sales Leaders – Are you planning a sales kickoff meeting during the 1st quarter of 2019?  At most companies, these meetings are filled with product-centric training sessions, boring PowerPoint slides and bleary-eyed sales reps wishing they were somewhere else.

Jeff delivers entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Jeff will help your sales team:

  • Bring new prospects into their pipelines
  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase average deal size
  • Sell value so they don’t have to compromise on price
  • Get motivated to crush it in 2019

Call Jeff at 402-510-7468 to discuss a first-quarter sales training program or simply reply to this email.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300. 

How to Keep Your Pipeline Full During Your Busiest Months

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say you are having the month of your sales career.

Everything is going right and you’re incredibly busy.  In fact, there’s so much going on you have several deals that are closing all around the same time.  Everything is looking good with those deals.

You know there’s a chance one of them could fall through at the last minute, so you’re doing your darnedest to make sure nothing goes wrong.  You’re acting like a “deal shepherd” as you diligently monitor all aspects of the process and keep in constant communication with all parties involved in the transaction.

And let’s further say everything works out.  You make a ton of commission money and you couldn’t feel happier.

Congratulations.  It’s awesome when you get a month like that.

But there is a down side when you have a great month full of bottom-of-the-funnel activity: you will most likely neglect your prospecting.

I don’t necessarily blame people who find themselves in that situation.  I’ve been there myself many times.  It’s easy to put off top-of-funnel, down-the-road prospecting activity when you’re busy.  And at some level, it’s completely rational to do so.   After all, it makes sense to devote whatever time it takes to close a sale that is late in the stage and has a high likelihood of closing.  After all, you presumably had to work very hard to get the sale to that point.

So what can you do to make sure you do at least some prospecting even when you are up to your eyeballs in high-value opportunities that are just about to become done deals?  Here are a few things that can help you get the best of both worlds – your sales completed without leaving your pipeline empty:

Time Management – All professionals need to exercise good time management practices but it’s especially important for busy sales practitioners.  I have noticed that even those people who are highly successful and who happen to be going through a particularly busy time, STILL end up wasting time each day.  If you watch the little five- and 10-minute time wasters, you just might find time to work in some calls to prospects.

Teamwork – Any time you can divide the labor, you give yourself more capacity.  If it’s appropriate in your company, you might want to team up with another sales professional.  If you have access to clerical support, find good and efficient ways to use it.  I have met many a sales pro who has access to administrative support but chooses not to use it, saying something like, “Well, it’s faster if I just do it myself.”  To me, that means the sales pro hasn’t spent time training the admin how his or her sales process works.

Time Blocking – I’m a huge fan of time blocking, and it’s an important component of time management.  Time blocking means you literally block out chunks of time on your calendar before a week even begins in which you will do nothing but reach out to prospects.  It could be email.  It could be in-person visits.  It could be telephone calls.  I find that telephone calls still tend to be the best use of prospecting time.  The key to time blocking is to never cheat.  Once a time block is on your schedule, you should stick to it no matter how tempting it is to do something else during that time.

Proactive Research – It is especially important during your most busy months to do your prospect research during off hours.  Since you have so much going on when you’re about to close a bunch of deals at once, you don’t want to spend prime, daytime meeting/calling hours looking up prospects’ websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Instead, do that during weekends, late nights or early mornings.

No matter how busy we get, even during our busiest, most exciting months, we still need to find a way to reach cold prospects.  It is shocking how fast a pipeline can drain.  If you want to avoid the up-and-down, boom-bust business cycle that too many sales reps find themselves struggling with, you have to find the time, energy and enthusiasm to make one more call.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Are You Getting in Front of Enough Prospects?

By Jeff Beals

Only 24 percent of salespeople exceeded their quotas last year.

That’s according to a report by sales strategist Marc Wayshak entitled, “18 Sales Statistics You Need to Know About Right Now.”  The report summarizes Wayshak’s study of 400 practicing salespeople.  Sales reps like to talk about “crushing it,” but the majority are notcrushing it.

To make matters worse, 54 percent of the respondents said it’s harder to get in front of prospects than it was five years ago.

But there was one statistic in Wayshak’s report that particularly stood out, and it explains why less than a quarter of sales reps exceeded their quotas: “66.7 percent of respondents reached out to fewer than 250 prospects in the past year.”  Furthermore, only 15 percent reached out to more than 1,000 prospects in the past year.

That’s another piece of evidence in my quest to prove how important prospecting is to your sales success.  The majority of today’s sales reps simply are not putting themselves in front of enough prospective clients.

Prospecting is the key.  Prospecting has always been the key.  It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business, and why in some companies, 10 percent make 90 percent of the sales.  Prospecting separates the great from the good.

If you want to make more money, prospect like your life depends on it.  Consider prospecting to be a mindset, a way of life and a fundamental part of your company’s culture.  When things are going well and you’re closing so many sales you can hardly keep up, you still need to carve out at least a little time for prospecting.

Turn over every rock and scratch the dirt.  Opportunities are often buried layers below the surface.  Keep in mind that every person you meet could potentially lead to business and that prospects can theoretically be found any place you go.

In order to make sure you prospect perpetually, block out a couple periods of time each week that are reserved for prospecting activities: telephone calls, personalized direct emails or showing up at prospects’ offices.  This time should be a non-negotiable calendar commitment not to be interrupted or rescheduled unless it’s an emergency.

When you reach out to new prospects, talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  Research the prospect before contacting them and talk about what they value and then be ready to explain how the outcomes/results of your products and services satisfy those values.

Finally, map out your weekly prospecting plan on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.  Decide who you’re going to contact and research those prospects ahead of time.  That way, when you get to your dedicated prospecting time, you’re focused on communicating instead of digging through websites and looking up LinkedIn profiles.  If you do anything other than communicating during dedicated prospecting time blocks, you’re wasting the prime calling hours.

Ultimately, success or failure in sales comes down to prospecting.  If you prospect perpetually and enthusiastically, you’ll likely succeed.  If you cheat on prospecting, you will likely fail.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Why Do Underperforming Sales Reps Underperform?

By Jeff Beals

Why do underperforming sales reps underperform?

That question has vexed sales leaders since the beginning of time.  The consequences and manifestations of that question have caused many a sales manager to waste countless hours of precious time.

Below is a quick list of what leads to underwhelming results. The first couple of items are very difficult to fix.  The other items can be fixed but only if the sales rep has a strong personal desire to turn things around and succeed.

Mindset – Low performers often lack a love for sales and the competitiveness to go out and win deals.  They lack the self-generated motivation that drives other reps to strive for money, victories and a sense of accomplishment.  Furthermore, some people are actually embarrassed or ashamed to work in sales.  This is more common than you might think.  There are a number of people who work in sales but wish they didn’t because they don’t see it as a prestigious enough job or they feel guilty approaching strangers.  Finally, some sales reps just aren’t team players. They are difficult to manage and don’t collaborate well with co-workers.

Laziness – Sales is not rocket science, but it does take hard work.  Some people just aren’t willing to put in the effort that it takes.

Personal problems – Hopefully, these are just temporary barriers that will eventually go away, but it is awfully difficult to focus on your work when things are in shambles at home.

No understanding of client value – Underperforming reps are more likely to make product-focused calls, meaning they focus too much on the features and benefits of their products/services, talk too much about themselves and focus on how great their company is.  Instead, they should focus on what the prospect truly values and what outcomes the prospect seeks.

Questions – Poor producers typically don’t ask enough questions, and the questions they do ask are superficial in nature.  Successful sales reps ask probing questions and as many as necessary to understand what truly motivates the prospect.

Insufficient prospecting activity – In order to create new clients, sales reps must get on the phone, send emails and show up at prospects’ offices.  They must be willing to interrupt a stranger’s day.  Low producers almost never make enough “dials per day.”

Selling on price – Because low producers don’t build adequate pipelines, they tend to be too dependent upon any one prospect at any given time.  This can make them desperate and more willing to offer price reductions and discounts in order to close sales.  Additionally, underperformers are more likely to focus on price during calls and meetings instead of focusing on the true value the product or service provides.

Trustworthiness – At some level, prospects need to feel like they can trust a sales rep especially when it comes to complex or high-dollar sales.  If a sales rep can’t establish trust quickly with new prospects, he or she is facing a steep uphill climb.

Product Knowledge – When clients do have specific questions about a product, you better be able to answer the question confidently, accurately and quickly.  Many underperformers can’t or won’t.

Most sales managers spend an inordinate amount of time with their underperformers.  Except for new sales reps, it is generally counterproductive to spend a lot of time with your lowest producers.

If you’re trying to decide with whom to spend time, focus on your middle producers.  Those are the sales reps who are producing adequate results but have room for much more. Second, focus on your high producers, helping them maximize their already impressive results. Your third and final priority would be the low producers, determining which ones have potential and which ones should go work somewhere else.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Are You About to Lose Your Largest Client?

My friend and colleague, Lee Salz, has the #1 sales book on Amazon right now. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to grab your copy: Amazon is selling the Kindle version of Sales Differentiation for only $3.99 in the U.S.

In honor of Lee’s brand-new book I have invited him to be a guest columnist for this week’s Sales Shape-Up.

By Lee B. Salz

For the last five years, a hardware supplier sold screws to a national home building company. Whenever the home builder ordered screws, the supplier delivered them accurately and on-time. If the home builder wanted Philips screws, the supplier delivered them. If they wanted flathead screws, the supplier had those, too. The supplier had screws of all types and sizes which allowed them to serve this national home builder client.

The supplier was proud of its performance, and the home builder was pleased with the customer service responsiveness. Over the years, this client grew to become one of the largest, most profitable clients in the hardware supplier’s portfolio.

One day, everything changed. The home builder stopped buying screws from this supplier. A competitor came along and took the account away.

How could that happen given the performance of the hardware supplier?

The competitor talked with the home builder, not just about the screws. The salesperson inquired about the tools they used to install the screws and the material in which the screws were installed. Interestingly, just like the incumbent supplier, the competitor could provide a comprehensive solution rather than sell a single product. Unfortunately for the incumbent, they never had a conversation about the full solution they could provide. They were complacent with the revenue they had and felt that their customer service would create client loyalty. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong.

They lost this account, and the competitor didn’t win it on price. They used Sales Differentiation strategy to position the value of consolidating suppliers with a comprehensive solution which made a strong business case justifying a change. The incumbent was merely a product-pusher and did nothing to provide meaningful, differentiated value.

This story parallels a dynamic I find in most companies. They have a fragmented client portfolio. They sell a product to a client and don’t develop a strategy to position the full solution they can bring to bear. They may have sold a single product to a company or a full solution to a division or location. In both cases, there is more selling to be done!

The key is to use a selling strategy I refer to as conquering accounts. Your client portfolio represents both opportunities and vulnerabilities which a conquering accounts strategy addresses.

The opportunity you have is to grow revenue with those you presently have a relationship.

The vulnerability comes into play when you don’t have a conquering accounts strategy as a competitor, just like with the hardware supplier, comes along and presents a compelling solution rather than pushing a product.

Have you ever looked at your client portfolio and asked yourself how much untapped revenue it represents? If you haven’t, you should! In my experience with clients, I find their client portfolio looks like a slice of Swiss cheese. There are unnecessary holes in their portfolio where they leave revenue on the table and themselves unnecessarily vulnerable to the competition.

Salespeople are pushed to hunt for new accounts, but who is tasked with going back to the existing clients with a conquering accounts strategy?

The first step in the development of your Conquering Accounts Strategy is to put together a Product Contrast Matrix as described below:

1. List of all of your products in the left-hand column

2. In the second column, identify who the competitors are for each product

3. In the third column, ask yourself who buys this product (market segments and the Decision Influencers within them)

4. In the fourth column, for each product, ask yourself the following question:
If they are buying this product, what other products of ours should be of interest?
(If the hardware supplier had asked themselves that question, they would have identified opportunities on both sides of the screw.)

5. In the fifth column, explain why the other products should be of interest by asking this question:
What is the synergy between the product they are currently buying and the related ones?

6. In the sixth column, list the competitors for the other product(s).

Once completed, contrast the data in this tool with your client portfolio. You will quickly be able to see opportunities and vulnerabilities which you can resolve by conquering the account.

Assign each account to a salesperson to develop a conquering accounts strategy and develop a timeline for execution of the strategy.

Your conquering accounts strategy allows you to play both offense and defense against your competitors. You drive revenue and keep them out of your accounts. Using Sales Differentiation strategy to conquer accounts leads to explosive, profitable growth.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

The Actions & Behaviors of Top Producers

By Jeff Beals

In last week’s article, we discussed the characteristics of top producers, exploring what characteristics, or “success factors,” were common among the top 10 and 20 percent of sales professionals.

This week, we dig into the details and examine the behaviors and actions of elite sales practitioners:

Networking – Top producers believe in creating their own leads instead of sitting around waiting for the marketing department to generate leads. One of the ways you do that is by getting out of the office and getting in front of prospects.  This is especially important if you have a geographically concentrated territory (such as one metro area) or you regularly attend events that are populated with your prospects.  Try to have a minimum number of events per month as a goal.

Prospecting calls – The best sales pros make a minimum number of calls each week without exception even when they’re busy closing current sales.  They also make “one more call,” which means even when they’re tired and want to go home, they muster the energy to make at least one more call.

Industry relationships and intelligence gathering – Top producers realize that information is power.  They study the market and constantly have their ear to the grape vine searching for rumors and insider information.  Keep your friends close and your competitors even closer!

Social media – Top producers to not depend on social media as a prospecting tool. Instead, they use social media to support their prospecting efforts.  While social media will never be as effective as calling prospects on the phone, it does help you with lead generation, personal branding and thought leadership.  Max out your LinkedIn profile, create and post interesting information that is of value to your prospects and build a large group of contacts/connections.  Social media is not the panacea that too many sales pros wish it to be but it’s still a useful tool.

Time blocking and time management – If you want to be in the top 10 percent of sales pros, it takes organization and discipline.  I recommend you literally block out time on your calendar each week to make prospecting calls.  Be rigid about this and don’t let any other activity take over your reserved prospecting time.  You also need discipline and attention to detail.

Client communication – Top producers don’t leave their prospects hanging and wondering what’s going on.  If you don’t communicate with them, even when there’s not much good news to report, you’re leaving your prospects vulnerable for poaching by your competitors.  An old rule of thumb: “If you think you’re communicating too much, you’re probably not.”

High responsiveness – Elite sales practitioners are highly responsive.  No leads fall through the cracks.  Each lead is treated like an instant-win, scratch-off lottery ticket.  Calls are returned much faster than 24 hours.

Staying front of mind – Top producers make it hard for people to forget them.  They stay in front of people, because they never know when a person might need them.  They congratulate people on successes, recognize people in the news with hand-written notes, and send links to articles that they think a certain person might enjoy reading.

A closer’s mentality – Ultimately, top producers know that all their efforts are designed to lead to closed deals and cashed commission checks.  When the time is right, they ask for the business, call the question and close the deal. Additionally, they have strong negotiation skills and don’t give into to price-reduction requests.

Work-life balance – Because they want to stay on top of their game, top producers must also reserve time for fun.  In fact, many elite sales reps tend to “play hard” but not so hard that they harm reputations or compromise their ability to do great work.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300.