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Ego Management: How to Make the Smartest People Part of Your Life

By Jeff Beals

You have probably heard the saying, “To be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.”

For better or worse, that hasn’t been terribly difficult for me.  I’ve been blessed with many intelligent, talented people in my career – colleagues, bosses, direct reports and friends.  I’m a better person and a more successful professional because of the gifted people in my life.

Whether you’re at work or in your personal life, surround yourself with smart and talented people.  If you are in a leadership position, hire people who are smarter than you.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

Surrounding yourself with more talented people can be very intimidating.  And a blow to the ego.  And even threatening!  Nevertheless, move forward with faith and conviction that you will be better served by teaming up people who are better than you at certain things.

Hiring Talented People

As a leader, have no fear of hiring people you think might pass you up some day.  It is better to be seen as a person who brings in and develops great talent than a person who protects the status quo by hiring mediocre or under-performing people.

Don’t Hide the Light under a Bushel

When you do end up employing an ultra-talented, hardworking individual, don’t try to hide them or prevent them from moving up just because you don’t want to lose them.  Great talent rises to the top.  Let the exceptional person move up.  In the long run, it will benefit you as they will remember and appreciate the role you played in boosting their career.  A former employee who makes it big can become a huge ally for you in the future.

Friends and Colleagues

Regardless of your professional role, identify talented friends and colleagues and build close relationships with them.  Another old saying tells us that you tend to become who you hang out with.  “You become the sum of your five best friends.”  Spending time with exceptional people makes you more exceptional.

Have a Mentor and Become One Too

Mentorship is one of the best professional development tools in existence.  We benefit both by being mentored and by mentoring others.  Find a successful role model and use that person as your mentor.  Some mentors don’t even have to know they are your mentor – just study them and do the things they do.  Other mentor relationships might be more formal.  At that same time, mentor someone yourself.  You actually become better in your work by teaching and coaching junior colleagues.  As I once wrote in a previous article, you don’t know it until you’ve taught it.  Mentorship is a classic win-win situation.

Different Intelligences

Here’s something that might help salve a bruised ego resulting from hanging around smarter people:  There are different kinds of intelligence.

Just because a colleague is smarter than you in one area doesn’t mean he or she is better in another.  Perhaps you struggle with creativity and idea-generation but have superior analytical skills.  Team up with the creative person and together you can accomplish more.  You might not be as quick to pick up operational details as a certain person but maybe you are better at building relationships and navigating institutional politics.

When it comes to intelligence and talent, we all need to identify our top strengths and biggest weaknesses.  You can maximize your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses by joining forces with people whose abilities complement your own.

Accountability

If you hire a team of exceptional people, it will be important to have a culture of accountability in your office.  Top performers expect to be held accountable and they expect that other employees in the company will be too.  Perhaps the most important person to hold accountable is yourself.  If you hold yourself to a high standard as a leader, your talented employees (even the ones more naturally gifted than you) will respect you and hold you in high esteem.

Speaking of “accountability,” I’m offering a webinar on June 5th at 10 a.m. Central Time called “How to Hold Your Sales Team Accountable.”

You’ll learn HOW TO:

1. Use 4 simple metrics that make it impossible for sales reps to hide weekly output and results
2. Implement 11 steps that will create a culture of sales accountability in your company.
3. Get reps to buy in to your accountability plan.

Investing just one hour of your time and only $49 will translate into bigger revenues, less stress and a happier work environment for everyone!

You are not going to want to miss out on this.  Register TODAY!

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.”

(402) 637-9300

How Do You Know If Your Company Lacks Sales Accountability?

By Jeff Beals

 

Nobody wants to be micromanaged, but today’s ambitious professionals do crave some level of accountability.  That’s especially true of sales practitioners, because they know accountability helps them make more money. 

 

While people thrive when working in a culture of healthy accountability, 91 percent of sales reps nationwide say “lack of accountability” is a major problem in their companies.  In fact, 46 percent of managers worldwide do a poor job of holding their teams accountable, according to a Harvard Business Review study. 

 

What about your company?  Do you have a lack of sales accountability in your organizational culture? 

 

It can be difficult to discern whether your company has a sales accountability problem, because you’re so close to the situation.  When you’re immersed in your work on a daily basis, it’s hard to get an unbiased look at what’s really happening. 

 

That’s why I’m providing you with the following list of factors that indicate your company may lack a sales accountability culture:

 

1. Plateaued or declining numbers.

 

2. Difficulty retaining top producers.

 

3. Difficulty recruiting top producers (Talent attracts talent.  Similarly, a lack of talent in an office is patently obvious to highly talented prospective employees).

 

4. Sales managers who appear to be more interested in building friendships with team members instead of being bosses.

 

5. The sales team lacks clear, quantifiable, unambiguous and regularly monitored goals both for the team overall and for each individual rep.

 

6. Sales managers aren’t having at least monthly one-on-one meetings with each sales rep.  If they do have these meetings the sales managers aren’t getting specific information from reps about results and pipeline progress. 

 

7. Sales managers utter vague, meaningless “motivational” phrases such as “We are tracking behind this quarter and need to take up our game to the next level,” or “Let’s get after it!”

 

8. Sales reps do not engage in healthy competition among themselves.

 

9. Sales reps talk more about their busy activities (like meetings, emails and phone calls) than their actual results. 

 

10. There is confusion and ambiguity about sales procedures, territory divisions, new product launches, etc.

 

11. Basic procedures keep getting changed for no apparent reason, which makes reps less confident and motivated. 

 

12.  Social loafing has crept into the sales department.  “Social loafing” is the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Because all members of the group are pooling their efforts to achieve a common goal, each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible.  This is more likely to happen in departments in which a lot of team-based selling takes place.

 

Do you see any of these problems in you company?  If you have one or two of them, you will want to address them, but your performance is probably fine.  If you have several of them, you got some work to do immediately.  A strong culture of sales accountability pushes all sales reps forward and maximizes revenue.

 

The good news is that you can hold your team accountable and it doesn’t have to be difficult or uncomfortable!

 

P.S. I’m offering a webinar on June 5th at 10 a.m. Central Time called “How to Hold Your Sales Team Accountable.”

 

You’ll learn HOW TO:


1. Use 4 simple metrics that make it impossible for sales reps to hide weekly output and results
2. Implement 11 steps that will create a culture of sales accountability in your company.
3. Get reps to buy in to your accountability plan.

 

Investing just one hour of your time and only $49 will translate into bigger revenues, less stress and a happier work environment for everyone!

 

You are not going to want to miss out on this.  Register TODAY!

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle

By Jeff Beals

Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time.  If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up and down.  When markets are optimistic, investors begin to feel enthusiasm, then exhilaration.  Eventually, it starts to feel like you’re invincible, that every investment you make pays off.  That false belief compels some investors to make reckless decisions and take questionable risks.

Just as the stock market reaches its feverish peak, the bull market ends.  Most people don’t realize it right away, and investors often go through a period of denial.  But eventually pessimism sets in, which leads to panic and then despair: the bear market.  Of course, when people are depressed at the bottom of the trough, that’s when things slowly start to trend upwards, starting the whole cycle over again.

Sales practitioners tend to go through cycles quite analogous to the stock market: highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

At the peak of the prospecting cycle, the “bull market,” you have so many deals to close and so much easy business that you’re tempted to put off prospecting activities.  Of course, that eventually leads to an empty pipeline.  When you realize you have no prospects in the pipe, you prospect like crazy, which eventually leads to another up cycle.

If your personal sales cycle is too volatile, you are putting yourself under a great deal of stress.  There’s one secret to evening out your cycle while keeping your revenue going up each year: perpetual prospecting.

Prospecting is the key. It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business (In some companies, it might be closer to 10/90).  It’s the reason why some sales reps do well even during a recession.  Prospecting separates the good from the great.

I like to define prospecting as “the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that they might not yet know.”

As that definition implies, there is one aggressive part of prospecting: “interrupting someone.”  But the rest of the definition implies that sales reps are doing prospects a favor by introducing them to something important: valuable products and services.

If you want to be a better prospector, and consequently make more money, here are five quick pieces of advice:

Prospect Life Your Life Depends on It

Your sales life DOES depend on prospecting.  Ideally, you should 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.

Be an Opportunity Detective

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.

Apply Discipline to Your Prospecting

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.

Be Obsessed with Prospect Value

When you engage cold prospects, you want to talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  For instance, too many sales reps start prospecting messages with statements such as: “We’ve been in business since 1910,” or “We offer a full suite of IT solutions.”  Instead, 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.

Plan Ahead

Nobody plans to fail but sales practitioners regularly fail to plan.  I recommend you 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.

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

“You brought great value to our event. The workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

(402) 637-9300

How to Be an Omnipresent Prospector

By Jeff Beals

The most successful sales professionals tend to work long and hard.  A significant chunk of those hours is typically dedicated to prospecting: networking, making phone calls, responding to emails, hosting guests, visiting people who refer/recommend them to clients and developing raving fans who champion their cause.

No matter how busy you may be, you need to get out of the office and show up at networking events especially if you work in outside sales. We need to reach out and engage the world around us. As a rule of thumb, you need to have meaningful encounters with prospects in your network every day.

I admit that’s a demanding standard.

The good news is that these encounters don’t necessarily have to be at formal functions held in formal venues. Your sphere of interest is ubiquitous. Strike up conversations with people around you. Reach out to people and get to know those who might refer a desirable prospect to you some day.

The majority of prestigious, big-time clients can only be reached through relationships. They do not commonly walk into your office asking to be your customer. They are not amenable to cold calls that are made without the benefit of a trusted referral, and they rarely respond to cold emails no matter how artfully you write them. You have to go out and meet them face-to-face in the places where they live, work and play.

“Big elephant” clients know they are important, and they expect to be wined and dined, so to speak. They are big deals and expect to be treated like a big deal.  That requires sales professionals to go out into the world and actively communicate. Getting access to the highly desirable clients requires you to be among your sphere of interest on a regular basis.

Get out there and meet everyone you can. Ask questions. Be like a detective turning over every stone, looking for any shred of evidence that can help you make the sale. Great salespersons are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere.

How do you know if you are doing enough networking, also known as “face-to-face prospecting?”

If someone ever says to you, “I see you everywhere,” you know you’re doing something right.

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. 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 in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

(402) 637-9300

Face-to-Face Selling Is Still Powerful in a Virtual World

By Jeff Beals

National associations are famous for holding big conventions each year.  Some conventions are so big they attract tens of thousands of attendees.

As you might imagine, it takes a great deal of work to pull off one of these major events.  Programs need to be planned, speakers booked, volunteers recruited, attendees encouraged to attend and logistics squared away.

One of the biggest decisions is where to have the event. When a meeting planner is looking for a venue for a convention or an industry meeting, they consider a number of factors:

  • Quality of the meeting facilities
  • Nearby attractions
  • Proximity of entertainment and restaurants
  • Ease of transportation

And then there’s the hotel.  Planners prefer a hotel that is either big enough to host the event itself or is right next door to a major convention center.  The hotel must be nice-looking, offer a range of amenities and have an adequate number of rooms.

But there is one thing that is an absolute MUST in order for a convention hotel to make the cut:  it has to have a large, full-service bar.

Yep, that’s right.  A great bar and lounge area in the convention hotel is generally considered a non-negotiable requirement.  Why?  It’s not because convention attendees want to drink more on the road than they do at home (although they typically do).  It’s because of something much more important – an age-old, primitive business practice known as networking.

Isn’t that interesting?  Organizations spend large amounts of time and money making everything just right for a convention, yet one of the most important parts of the experience comes when attendees retire to the bar after the last general session and simply network – build ties and bonds with their colleagues from other cities, states or countries.

They share ideas, refer business and counsel one another.  Despite the many sophisticated and highly valuable things modern business meetings offer, much of the value that comes from the event occurs in the evening in the crowded hotel lobby bar.

We professionals think we are so sophisticated, yet we’re still hopelessly tied to our ancient social instincts.  You know what?  That’s okay.  People make business interesting.  People make business meaningful.  People make business worthwhile.

No matter how sophisticated we become, nothing is as effective as in-person learning and one-on-one networking.  Those companies and professionals that remember this tend to do better and sell more products and services.

We have access to live webinars, digital recordings, interactive online learning programs.  Nevertheless, people still love to experience events in person.  They still benefit from taking continuing education courses in a room full of people from a qualified person standing there in the flesh.

Think about it…We have so many ways to deliver our sales messages to clients via mass media, social media and sophisticated email campaigns.  Nevertheless, sales practitioners still have to call prospects on the phone one at a time or show up at their offices to make a pitch.

It’s easy to say “no” to an advertisement, a tweet or a mass email.  It’s harder to say “no” when someone sits down with you, listens to your needs and wants and personally explains why their product or service will benefit you and your unique situation.

Don’t be misled and lulled to sleep by all the wondrous selling/marketing tools at your disposal.  While those technologies certainly help, you still have to reach out and shake hands if you want to make it big.

The next time you go to a convention, test this out.  Enjoy the speakers, take notes at the break-out sessions, attend the awards banquet, but at about 9:30 p.m., stroll through the hotel lobby bar.  Notice how many people from your convention are there.  Join the conversation and build long-term collegial relationships that can enhance your success for years and years to come.

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. 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 in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

(402) 637-9300

Don’t Network for the Sake of Networking

By Jeff Beals

Sounds of laughter and clinking dishes filled the room at the well-attended networking event inside the hotel conference center.

Like the other professionals in attendance, I tried my best to move about the room, meeting people and engaging in discussion – mostly small talk.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jon and couldn’t help chuckling a bit to myself as he approached.

Jon’s a great guy, someone I have enjoyed getting to know. But I always shake my head when I think about him, because Jon is the poster-boy for inefficient and ultimately non-effective networking.

You see, Jon is the business development guy for a consulting firm. His job is to schmooze, to go out into the world, build relationships and ultimately sign up clients for his firm’s services. Jon works hard at the “relationship” part of his job but doesn’t appear to be terribly effective at the “signing-up-clients” part.

Jon is seemingly everywhere. He’s a voracious networker. He’s diligent, because you can’t go to a networking event without seeing him. He is intelligent and talented. He is engaging. Shoot, he’s even a good-looking. He knows how to play the social networking game.

Despite all his attributes, Jon has one glaring deficiency. In the 10 years I have known him, he has never once asked for my business.

It’s not just me. I was talking to a friend, and somehow Jon’s name came up in discussion. I mentioned that I’ve always been amazed at how much attention I receive from Jon without ever being asked for my business. My friend had noticed the same thing.

Jon is a guy who networks for the sake of networking. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he doesn’t finish the job, call the question, ask for the order.

Remember that your ultimate goal in networking is to establish rapport, learn information and ultimately use it to accomplish your business goals. Sure, most of your time is engaged in chit-chat and pleasantries, but at some point it’s time to cash in.

Jon’s affliction is actually a common one.

It’s fun to do the relationship-building part, but it’s hard for many people to follow through with the asking part. Asking can be intimidating, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful people must network, but networking is simply a means to an end. Your success as a networker is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.

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. 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 in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

(402) 637-9300

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Sales Reps Make When Leaving Voicemails

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say it’s Tuesday morning at 7:30, the start of your weekly phone prospecting time.  You did your pre-call research the previous day and have your list of prospects ready to go.  You sit down at your desk, dial the first prospect’s number and…

You get their voicemail, of course.

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.  I know sales reps whose voicemails are so good and so effective, they would RATHER get a prospect’s voicemail than reach him or her on the first attempt.

In order to make your voicemail efforts more fruitful, here are some common voicemail mistakes that every sales rep should studiously avoid:

1. Talking too much

Sales voicemails should be less than 20 seconds.

2. Giving up too soon

It typically takes eight or more voicemails to get a prospect to call you back.  Most people quit after two or three messages, because they’re worried about being pesky or sounding desperate.  I’ll admit it feels weird to carpet bomb a prospect with eight or more voicemails, but if each voicemail highlights something of value, they are really effective.  If you are persistent there’s a good chance they’ll call you back.

3. Touching base

Never say, “I’m calling to touch base,” or “I’m just checking in with you.”  Those are annoying voicemails to receive, because they provide nothing of value to the recipient.

4. Talk about yourself

Never leave a litany of features and benefits on a voicemail.  Never talk about how great you are, how many awards your company has won or the combined years of experience your staff has.  Your prospects only care about how your product or service makes their lives better.

5. “I’m going to be in your area next week and would love to stop by and take just 20 minutes of your time.”

Just because you are coincidentally going to be in a prospect’s city, doesn’t mean that a prospect wants to drop everything she has going on and spend time with you.  Your travel schedule is irrelevant to a prospect if you have failed to catch his imagination in the first place.

6. Trying to say too much

If you only have 20 seconds to leave a voicemail, you only have time for one idea.  If you have more than one burning thing you want to say, save the second thing for the next voicemail.

7. Forget to leave your call-back number

One of the easiest excuses a prospect has to NOT return a voicemail message is if the call-back number is not readily available.  Only 7 percent of sales voicemails are ever returned, which means it’s hard enough to get call backs.  Don’t do anything that lowers the likelihood.

8. Being misleading

Some sales reps like to deceive prospects in their voicemails either by implying that they are returning the recipient’s call (even though the recipient never called them in the first place) or by name-dropping a person they don’t really know. You don’t want to do anything that comes back to embarrass yourself if you do end up getting a meeting.

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. 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

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Put Big Mama’s Picture on the Business Card

By Jeff Beals

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally published this article six years ago in March of 2012.  The star of the article, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, passed away yesterday at age 76.  She was a bigger-than-life personality who made a positive difference in my hometown.  I enjoyed interviewing her and periodically chatting with her in the years since.  She was an amazing woman.  I hope you find the second release of this article interesting and enlightening…

When Patricia Barron first became a grandmother, she wasn’t ready to be called “grandma” or “granny.”  Such labels were way too old fashioned for her.  After all, she still felt young and had a lot of dreams left to pursue.

In some African-American families, the name “Big Mama” is affectionately used to describe a grandmother, but more than that, it’s a title of honor given to the family matriarch.  Such was the case in Barron’s family.  Once she became “Big Mama,” the name stuck, and there was no going back.

When you meet her today, it’s as if she has always been Big Mama. Everyone calls her that whether they’re related to her or not.  With her charming personality, welcoming nature and motherly persona, you immediately feel comfortable using such a friendly, informal title.

After a 30-year career working for the telephone company, Big Mama retired from Ma Bell and was ready to start the next chapter of her life.  It was time to pursue a lifelong dream: to be a restaurateur and owner of her own restaurant.

She developed a love of cooking as a little girl observing her grandmother prepare Sunday dinners.  In her early twenties, she studied culinary arts.  As her family grew, Big Mama loved preparing large meals for relatives and friends.  It wasn’t uncommon for 30 or 40 people to come over for dinner.  As she says, “I love to feed people.”

It only made sense that Big Mama would consider opening a restaurant upon her retirement. But she didn’t want to open just any restaurant.  She wanted to bring her grandmother’s old recipes to life – oven-fried chicken, collard greens, stir-fried cabbage and sweet potato pie.

What’s more, she wanted to open her business in economically challenged north Omaha, an urban, predominantly African-American quadrant of Omaha, Nebraska.  Big Mama hoped her restaurant would help breathe new life into the neighborhood and provide needed jobs for workers who could use a second chance.

While it was an exciting concept and a noble idea, it was not an easy sell to reluctant lenders, who had no confidence in funding a restaurant business in north Omaha.  Perhaps more surprising, lenders were hesitant, because Big Mama was 65 years old.  How long would she run the business?  Could they count on her staying healthy?

“I had experienced discrimination in my life, because I was black and because I was a woman,” Big Mama told me, “but I had never been discriminated against because I was old!”

Undeterred, she gathered her resources, relied on her faith and leaned on her network of friends/family to open Big Mama’s Kitchen on a youth services campus that was once a state school for deaf children.  It was hard work, but she did it.

Five years later, her restaurant is doing well.  She is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.  Her famous sweet potato ice cream is now stocked on local grocery store shelves. At age 70, Big Mama is loving life as an entrepreneur and plans to keep feeding people until she’s 100.  She now makes a living doing what she loves, and at the same time, she’s doing her part to help rebuild a community that has experienced so much disappointment.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking this story feels good, but it’s actually about to get even better.

You see, Big Mama’s story is not just motivational, it’s highly instructive.  Big Mama offers many lessons for those who wish to succeed in business.

Regular readers of this column know that I believe in the power of personal branding and what it can do to build businesses and strengthen organizations.  When people who work inside an organization become “famous,” the whole organization benefits.

Big Mama’s Kitchen has great food and great service, but much of its success is due to the owner’s personality and the personal brand she has built.

Awhile back, she sought the counsel of a marketing firm.  It turned out to be money well spent, as the consultant gave her a great piece of advice: “Big Mama, put your picture on the restaurant’s logo. Put your picture on your business card.”

At first, the modest Big Mama wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but she eventually agreed to give it a try.

The new logo is brilliant.  For one thing, Big Mama believes it’s good for African-American customers to see her face.   They can see that an African-American woman is running a soul food restaurant.  But a very large percentage of her customers are white, and most of them drive many miles to dine in her restaurant.  Her image resonates with those white customers too.  She is the personification of a “Big Mama.”  She is the face of her business.

Big Mama’s personal branding efforts are paying off as she has become a celebrity.  She is the local queen of soul food. Her restaurant has been featured on The Food Channel, The Travel Channel and the Sundance Channel.  People have been known to board an airplane, fly into town, eat at Big Mama’s and fly home the same day.  Her spicy “Afro Burger” was front-and-center on the popular television show Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

People who visit the restaurant come for the food, but you can see it on their faces when they walk in – they look around the room hoping to catch a glimpse of Big Mama, the woman who embodies the restaurant.

Granted, if the food and service weren’t great, the restaurant wouldn’t still be here.  But quality alone is often not enough.  There’s so much competition in this world.  There are so many ways a business can fail.  By building a personal brand and attaching it to your company, you benefit.  Everyone benefits.  People are the portals of profit.  We are much more comfortable doing business with someone than something.

Like Big Mama, your widely recognized and highly respected personal brand can set you apart from your competitors.

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. 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

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Make Your Sales Pitches More Persuasive

By Jeff Beals

We all know that certain kind of person who is so persuasive, he could “sell sawdust to a lumber mill” or “charm wallpaper off a wall.”

Some people are so persuasive they can seemingly talk anybody into anything.  How do they do that?  It helps to possess charisma, but persuasive people tend to employ certain techniques, things we can all use to make our personal and professional lives more successful.

In the 1930s, Professor Alan Monroe of Purdue University married the art of presentation with the psychology of persuasion.

The result of his scholarly work became known as Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, a concept that is still pertinent for today’s professionals. The concept was originally intended to help orators structure persuasive speeches, but it’s equally applicable for a variety of other purposes – making a sales presentation, pitching a proposal or trying to talk your boss into making a certain decision.

Whether you’re addressing a large group or a pitching a single decision maker, keep Monroe in mind as you plot your sales presentations. Monroe’s Motivated Sequence advises presenters to build their case using five distinct steps completed in exact order.

First comes the attention-getter in which you introduce a problem by jolting the audience with something bold and unexpected—a story, quote, disturbing statistic or a big “bet-you-didn’t-know” statement.

Step two is need. This is where you prove the problem is significant and worthy of the listener’s attention. You also want to cast the need as something that won’t be solved without the right approach by the right person or organization.

Monroe’s third step is known as satisfaction. Here you prove that you have the solution to the previously mentioned problem.

In step four, visualization, you paint a picture of how wonderful life will look in the future if they accept and implement your solution. You also portray how terrible things will be if they ignore your recommendations.

Finally, in step five, you tell the audience what action they should take. This is the big finish, where you powerfully and motivationally tell them to go do it!

Think about the presentations, pitches and proposals you make.  Ask yourself how they fit into Monroe’s outline. Are you skipping a step or two?  Many salespersons start with step three, the solution, without making the case strongly enough that a solution is necessary in the first place. Structure your persuasive pitch in such a way that makes the targeted listener more acquiescent to what you are pitching. Make them yearn for your solution intensely before you tell them about it.

Your pitches and sales presentations must follow a logical format that feels right to the listener and syncs with their sense of order. The approach needs to build a persuasive case efficiently and effectively. Persuasive presentations must conform to human nature, which has remained static for ages. If you use human nature in your favor, the presentation is more likely to be successful. If you fight human nature, you’re engaging in futility.

As the late Zig Ziglar once said, “People do things for their reasons, not yours.” Focus on what the listener values during the presentation and take time to draw them in by asking clarifying questions and tying things back to what they told you during earlier communications.

In the end, being persuasive really isn’t a matter of “selling ice to an Eskimo” or “talking a bird out of a tree,” rather it’s about finding what people value and then using the right techniques to convince them that you’re capable of delivering that value.

By the way, as I was looking up colloquialisms about persuasiveness for this article, my favorite was, “He could talk a dog off a meat wagon.”  Now, that’s persuasive.

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. 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

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

The 5 Best Ways to Build Trust With Your Clients

By Jeff Beals

Here are a couple indisputable truths about today’s business environment:

  1. Sales cycles are much faster than they were 10 years ago.
  2. Buyers are distracted and under much more pressure than they were in earlier times.

Because we now operate in a frenzied selling environment, some sales professionals believe there is no longer a need to develop trust. They argue that there’s not enough time to build trusting relationships, and even when you do have time, many buyers prefer to keep their vendors at arm’s length.

I disagree.

True, sales professionals must try harder to build trust, but the end result is well worth the effort.  The good news is that you don’t have to go from not knowing someone to lifelong confidant in one setting.  Build trust a little bit at a time.  When you first meet a prospective client, get to know them, build rapport and establish a relationship.  As you get serious about doing business together, there are five ways you can develop trust.  Keep doing these things over time, and you’ll develop a close friendship with a person who will become one of your all-time best clients.

Communication

Those sales professionals who go out of their way to communicate tend to build trust quicker and more deeply with clients. Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Tell the truth and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Moments of truth are opportunities.  Embrace them as a chance to prove your trustworthiness and advance the relationship.  Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.

Predictability

People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you are the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.

Social Proof

Robert Cialdini, the so-called “Godfather of Influence,” believes that social proof is one of the most important components of influence. You are far more likely to persuade someone’s thinking if you remember that “people follow the lead of similar others.”

Cialdini cited a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity. When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

In another study, New York City residents were asked to return a lost wallet to its owner. The New Yorkers were highly likely to attempt to return the wallet when they learned that another New Yorker had previously attempted to do so. But learning that someone from a foreign country had tried to return the wallet didn’t sway their decision one way or the other.

If social proof is so powerful, does it not make sense that you can more quickly build trust if respected people advocate on your behalf?  Smart sales practitioners assemble a group of past and current clients who can provide social proof and thus convey a greater sense of trustworthiness to future clients.

Rapid Responsiveness

Because all of humanity’s assembled knowledge is available on the little smart phones we carry in our pockets, people have become accustomed to getting any desired information immediately. That means we have to be ultra responsive to our prospects and current customers.  It’s no longer okay to wait 24 hours to return a message.  It must be done immediately.

Now that so much information is readily available, and people expect lightning-fast responses, you are now viewed as “untrustworthy” if you’re a slow communicator.  It’s almost people think you’re incompetent or perhaps hiding something if you take too long.  Speed is now equated with trust.

In closing, those who flourish in sales for many years endure because they put a premium on people. They build trusting relationships not just for financial gain but because it’s also the right thing to do.

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. 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

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com