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Achieve Celebrity Status Without Becoming an Awful Person

By Jeff Beals

In order to enjoy the lead-generation and prospecting benefits that a sales practitioner can get from personal branding, I recommend you become a sort of celebrity.

But I always feel a little uncomfortable using the word, “celebrity,” because a lot of celebrities are frankly lousy people.

We see it all the time – celebrities behaving badly:

1. A beautiful teenage movie star grows up into a drug-addicted has-been with a long rap sheet and a collection of orange-jumpsuit photos.

2. A professional athlete goes to jail for assaulting his girlfriend.

3. A famous musician and his bodyguard are arrested for punching an autograph-seeker in the face.

And then there are those who do outrageous things in hope of becoming famous.

The continuing popularity of reality television shows and viral social media videos have made it possible for seemingly anyone to be a celebrity if they have the right look, at least a little bit of charisma and the willingness to perform outrageous stunts in front of millions of incredulous eyes. Turn on television and you’re apt to see someone allowing a camera crew to document their most intimate moments just so they can be a celebrity.

The word “celebrity” has become tarnished.

You may be surprised that I, as author of a book on self marketing, am troubled by the over-emphasis on celebrity status in America. I’m concerned despite the fact that I advise professionals to become “a celebrity in your own sphere of interest.”

In a loud, crowded and brutally competitive world, it’s easier to find and attract new business when you are well known by the people who make up your personal target audience: – clients, potential clients, anyone who could refer business, industry VIPs, community leaders, etc. If you’re a celebrity in your own sphere of business, you possess social and professional power that can help you reach your goals.

I think of “celebrity in your own sphere of interest” as being known for an on-going series of respected achievements. In order for your “celebrity status” to be effective, exhibit good behavior. If you work hard and do impressive things, you deserve be “celebrated,” and that’s where the word “celebrity” comes from.

But how do you let the world know the wonderful things you are doing without coming across negatively?

You need the right attitude and the right frame of mind.

Despite the necessity of personal branding, many sales practitioners are not entirely comfortable doing it. They’re afraid they might cross the fine line and become the type of person that others try to avoid. That’s a reasonable concern, because nobody likes braggarts, show-offs, know-it-alls and blowhards.

Ironically, living as a celebrity in your own sphere of interest requires the virtue of humility. Promote yourself while making it look like you’re not trying. Let people know what you’re doing without being obnoxious. Above all, make sure you have real accomplishments to promote.

You can avoid turning your personal branding efforts into egotistical boasting by asking yourself two questions:

If people knew the real reason why I want to become a celebrity in my own sphere of interest, would I be embarrassed?

If the answer is “no,” you’re probably okay.

Do the things I do for personal branding purposes also have legitimate economic, cultural or social benefit?

If the answer is “yes,” you’re probably okay.

Simply put, you will find it easier to generate new business if a lot of quality people know you and have a positive image of you in their minds. Being a celebrity in your own sphere of interest makes you more powerful. Just make sure that as you journey down the path to personal stardom, you take your ethical and moral beliefs along with you. If you do, you should be just fine.

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.

The Secrets of a Successful Sales Presentation

A sales presentation is your pitch.

More specifically, the presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s offerings are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you can solve a prospect’s unique problems.

Sales presentations tend to occur after earlier preparatory sales work has been completed.

Before meeting in person, you probably found the prospective client thanks to your prospecting efforts that caught their attention because of some compelling value you presented.  You have most likely had at least one phone call where you were able to ask probing questions.

During those pre-meeting phone conversations, you should have asked the prospect numerous questions to find their pain points and determine what they truly value.

Although the presentation is your chance to highlight yourself and your company, there is still plenty of opportunity to listen. That’s important, because you can never know enough about a prospect and listening strengthens relationships.

Here are 9 pieces of advice to help you make sales presentations more successful for you:

1. A sales presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s attributes are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you would solve a prospect’s unique problems.  Just make sure the presentation is tailored to how your offering exactly satisfies what matters to that client.  In other words, limit the talk about how long you’ve been in business, how many clients you serve, the combined years of service your staff has, etc.

2. Don’t just focus on presenting. Think about building a trusting relationship with the prospect.  You can build trust by establishing rapport, communicating thoroughly, being appropriately self-deprecating and listening earnestly when the prospect talks.  A presentation isn’t all talk. Make sure to listen as well.

3. Structure your sales presentation both rationally and persuasively, taking advantage of human nature.  Don’t forget the emotion.  Salespeople love to present logical arguments as to why a prospect should buy, but prospects purchase based on emotion.  Yes, that’s true even in complex B2B transactions.

4. When you coach and facilitate your prospects, the hard sell is not necessary.

Determine what part of your sales presentation is boilerplate and which part is to be customized. Focus your preparation on the customized part.

5.  Cast a vision of how great life will be with your product or service by using a little showmanship during the sales presentation.  Highlighting value-added benefits can be just enough to push the deal over the top.

6. Over-reliance on audio/visual aids or props is a mistake but not using them all can make you come across as unprepared, unprofessional or unsophisticated.

7.  Tell the truth, communicate earnestly and be yourself (but be the most appealing version of yourself).

8. Two presenters are usually better than one, but three presenters can feel like a crowd.  The larger the number of prospects in the meeting, the more representatives you can have from your company.

9. Doing something a little special and out of the ordinary makes prospects feel as if you truly value them and their business.  If there is a pleasant surprise during the sales presentation, it can help you chances, just as long as the surprise isn’t cheesy or over the top.

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.

Consequences of Missing Out on a Sale

By Jeff Beals

I was talking with my brother-in-law last week, and he shared an experience he had at a local chapter meeting of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

An insurance executive was delivering a speech about sales success.  During her presentation, she talked about how insurance agents sometimes miss out on a sale.  When that happens, she said, the typical insurance agent just quickly moves on.

“We might not get paid, we miss out on a commission and we’re disappointed,” she said, “but we quickly move on to the next lead.”

But sometimes missing out on a sale is downright tragic.  She used life insurance as an example.

“What happens if you didn’t prepare before the presentation or you don’t come across just right, and you miss that sale?” the speaker asked. “You might find yourself years down the road, having a dreaded conversation with the surviving spouse and the children.”

In other words, missing out on a sale doesn’t necessarily hurt just us.  It could end up hurting your prospect.  The products and services you sell are important.  People need what you offer.

But prospects often don’t know what they don’t know.  They sometimes just don’t understand how your offering can protect them or at least make their lives more enjoyable.

What’s more, prospects often reactively, reflexively say “no,” even when they don’t know all the facts and even when they kind of want your offering.

I’m reminded of book, When Buyers Say No: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward, by Ben Katt and Tom Hopkins.  The book provides a number of reasons why buyers say “no” even if they’re actually interested in your offering:

  • The prospect has unanswered questions or concerns
  • You haven’t fully figured out what the prospect values and addressed all those values.  That can lead you to offer products and services that aren’t quite right for the prospect
  • It’s possible you haven’t unearthed all the prospect’s objections
  • The prospect might be uncomfortable with how quickly the sales process is going, and he or she simply wants to slow things down.

Now, sometimes, “no” indeed means “no.” You can usually tell when a prospect is resolutely uninterested.  But that’s often not the case after a prospect has taken the time to meet with you and talk at length about your product.

If you sense the prospect might not really mean “no,” the best thing to do is go back into probing-question mode.  And certainly don’t get defensive or start worrying.  Those reactions are counterproductive.

Ask them about their concerns and hesitations.  Chances are good that you misunderstood one of their answers or failed to ask a key question in the first place.  Listen carefully to the answers and truly absorb what the prospect says (instead of going through the motions, making it look like you’re listening).

Katt and Hopkins then recommend you confirm the buyer is ready to take action. At this point, you simply say something like “If I can adequately address your concerns, would you be ready to move forward with the purchase?”

Then you provide an appropriately customized answer and ask for the business again.

When you go the extra step, and make one more effort, you are not just helping yourself.  You could be making a huge difference for your prospective clients.  They just might not initially realize what a big favor you are doing for them.

Lifelong Learning Loop

For the last month, I’ve been sharing my favorite book summaries with you because of my partnership with Readitfor.me.

Between now and the end of the month, my friends at Readitfor.me are offering a Lifetime Membership to their service for only $249. Their founder, Steve Cunningham, has made a video outlining the offer, along with his presentation on The Lifelong Learning Loop: The 7 Practices of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners.

You can watch that video, and take advantage of the Lifetime Membership Offer, here.

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.

Set Aside Time “Off the Top” for Learning

By Jeff Beals

Days were growing longer and the flowering trees of late April were in full bloom across the campus.  The spring semester was nearing its end, and even as a part-time, “adjunct” faculty member, who only taught one course, the end of the school year always brought a sense of excitement.

In the early 2000s, I taught juniors and seniors in the business college at my local university.  I used to get a kick out of the things students would say in our after-class discussions especially as the spring semester waned.

“I can’t wait for graduation,” said one burned-out senior, “so I never have to study again.”

I chuckled a little to myself when I heard that comment.  Not wanting to burst her bubble, I said nothing, allowing her to enjoy the excitement of her approaching graduation.  It wasn’t the right time to tell her that her education was actually just beginning.

In order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, learning never ends.  You must be a lifelong learner if you want to be a high-achiever or top producer.

Your continual learning is both formal and informal.  If you have a deficiency in your formal education, now is the time to correct it.  If you are no longer interested in pursuing degrees, you should still find yourself in a classroom periodically just to keep up with the fast-moving, hyper-competitive economy in which we work.

Lifelong learning prepares you for unanticipated happenings.  We never know what business or career opportunity might come our way.  By learning all you possibly can now, you set yourself up for unforeseen opportunities and increase the likelihood that you will respond appropriately to those opportunities.

If you are an entrepreneur, lifelong learning allows you to continually hone your craft.  You will become better at operationalizing new innovations.  You will be a better manager, more innovative and more likely to be on the cutting edge.  You will learn more effective ways to sell your products and services.

Lifelong learning allows you to prepare for a polarized reality of today’s workplace.  On one hand, you need to have a specialty – something that you do very well that few others can.  On the other hand, you need to be a generalist – someone with a diversity of professional skills and experiences.  Shape your educational and intellectual pursuits in such a way as to pursue both of these seemingly dichotomous realities.

Regardless of your line of work, it is healthy to assume that all your competitors are vigorously trying to improve themselves.  You need to continue educating yourself just to keep up, let alone to get ahead.  Carve out time for your own self development.

Continuing education is like investing.  Just as you should set aside investment money before you pay bills and spend on entertainment, you need to set aside time “off the top” for learning.  No matter how successful you already are or may someday become, you can always go further if you make a commitment to never stop learning.

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.

You Can’t Escape the System of Reliabilities

By Jeff Beals

There was a time, back in feudal England, when taking a dispute to court was generally considered a bad idea.

The final decision depended on the king’s interpretation of the conflict. That interpretation could be influenced by the king’s mood, how closely he paid attention the arguments and whatever preexisting biases he may have possessed.

And here’s the really bad part: the losing party was sometimes accused of perjury and occasionally put to death. Going to court was a high-stakes endeavor.

Suffice it to say that Medieval English merchants figured out it was better to resolve disputes amongst themselves rather than risk the king’s wrath. That eventually led to the use of contracts in the English legal system.

I once attended a contract law seminar in order to earn continuing education credits, and I’ll always remember how interesting the instructor was. I’m a history buff, so I enjoyed hearing the instructor explain the historical underpinnings of modern contract law at the start of the class. He used one term in particular that caught my attention and stuck with me: “system of reliabilities.”

In order for our modern, contract-dependent society to work, we operate within a system of reliabilities, meaning we have a reasonable expectation that the people around us can be counted on to carry out their obligations. As a simple example, the instructor said when you drive an automobile, you’re participating in a system of reliabilities – you have a reasonable expectation that other drivers will stay in their lanes and yield the right of way as appropriate.

The more I thought about the concept, “system of reliabilities,” the more intrigued I became. Regardless of what you do for a living, you participate in a system of reliabilities every day as you do your work.  If you work in a large organization, you depend heavily on your colleagues. Even if your business is merely a one-entrepreneur shop, you still depend on your vendors and clients.

Since there is no escaping the system of reliabilities in which we live and work, it’s a good idea to assess whether we are adequately doing our parts, playing our roles. A healthy economy and vibrant marketplace depend upon a system of reliabilities working properly. When it comes to our personal obligations, here are a few key components of the professionals’ system of reliabilities:

  • Ethical decision-making and behavior
  • Following laws and abiding by organizational rules and regulations
  • Being sensitive to institutional norms and expectations and behaving in accordance to them
  • A willingness to accept responsibility and to hold yourself accountable for your words and actions
  • Detailed and thorough communication so everyone is on the same page
  • Completing projects and tasks properly and on time
  • Empathy and understanding
  • Teaching, training and mentoring
  • A commitment to education – A society is more prosperous when its members continually learn
  • Forgiveness – helping others recover from their mistakes and transgressions
  • Charity for those who need help
  • Bravery – so you can stand up to evil

Those are some of the things that come to my mind. I’m sure I could think of a hundred more if I tried, because in order for us to be successful, we need our fellow people to meet a lot of obligations.

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.

The Power of Teaming in Sales

By Jeff Beals

Generally speaking, we learn better and develop better ideas when we work in groups.  Human beings are social creatures.  Our ability to team up has allowed our species to build amazing structures and advance once-unimaginable technologies.

When two or more people put their heads together and tackle challenging problems, we often end up with amazing innovations.  Teams beat individuals.

But those of us who have chosen a career in sales tend to be individualists.  Some of us are even considered “lone wolves.”

Now, there are benefits to behaving like an individual when you work in sales.  Our profession requires quick thinking and the ability to confidently make decisions when you’re out on the road far away from the office.  Salespeople typically live on commission, which requires you to have tolerance for risk and a great deal of self-confidence.

The key is to combine the individualism that is necessary for success in sales with the human desire to be part of an advanced social organization.

If you roll your eyes anytime someone talks about your sales organization working as a team, take a look at these examples of when teaming up produces positive results for sales professionals:

1. Message Development

Prospecting is much more difficult than it was 10 or 20 years ago especially when you’re approaching new, cold prospects.  In such an environment, business acumen is critically important.

That means we have cutting-edge messages that engage and challenge prospects in ways that are meaningful for them.  In other words, you can no longer call a prospect and say, “I’d like to stop by your office and pick your brain.”  Instead, you need a compelling message that stands out in the sea of communication sameness.

Developing these messages is a great teamwork opportunity.  When a company invites me to their office to conduct a prospecting workshop, I challenge the sales reps to develop a series of compelling email, social, telephone and voicemail messages they can use to engage cold prospects.  If we have time, we do this as part of the workshop; if we don’t, I assign it as a homework project.

Here’s how it works:  Each member of the sales team develops a certain number of effective prospecting messages and then we share all the messages with the group.  All the sales reps can share in the creative bounty and start using the best messages right away

2. Professional Development

Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

Indeed it is critical that sales professionals constantly learn.  Some of that learning can be individual – reading, watching webinars, personal research – but we tend to learn more and retain more of that knowledge when we learn together.

That’s why it’s useful to do in-house sales training, watch sales training videos as a team or go to conferences as a group.  Once a group of sales professionals is exposed to some form of education, it’s a good idea to talk about it together after the training takes place and try out some of the ideas as a team.

3. On-Boarding

Lately, I’ve been thinking about on-boarding quite a bit.  It came up as a conversation within the past two weeks in both of the mastermind groups I lead. Many sales leaders struggle finding the best ways to bring new sales reps up to speed and quickly maximize their talents.

Well, you can use the collective power of the current sales team to shrink the learning curve for new sales professionals.  Have each experienced member of your team sit down and think of all the most common objections they receive during meetings with prospects.  Then have each of them write down how they overcome those objections.

Similarly, have them list all the issues that pop up during price-and-terms negotiations and how they successfully handle those.

You can do this with other parts of the selling process as well.  The collective knowledge and experience of the group is a great teacher and prevents you from trying to reinvent the wheel every time a new person joins your team.

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.

Sales Is Something You Do for Someone Special

By Jeff Beals

“Sales isn’t something you do to someone,” said the late great Zig Ziglar. “It’s something you do for someone.”

Most people think of Zig as motivational speaker and inspirational author, and he indeed was both of those things, but Zig was first and foremost a sales guy.

He started teaching salespeople how succeed back in the 1960s, and even after he became a mainstream motivational speaker, he was always a resource for those of us who have to sell things for a living.

Zig nailed it when he said sales is something you do for people instead of to people.

People love to buy but they hate being sold.

Buyers are less satisfied with decisions that are made under pressure.

Old-style, high-pressure sales tactics are the reason some people have a negative view of sales and why some sales professionals are actually embarrassed to be working in sales.

So how do you act like Zig Ziglar and help people happily buy something instead of shoving a product down their throats?

Focus on what prospects value!

The world’s most successful salespersons don’t sell products and services. They sell VALUE:

Delivery – Consistently deliver outstanding results. With so much competition in the world, clients have the right to assume that all providers are competent. Make sure you are more than competent in your operations.

Interpersonal Communication – You will have a hard time determining what the client values if you don’t communicate thoroughly and listen carefully.

Relationships and Trust – Do what it takes to build a strong bond with your clients.  If the relationship is strong enough, you can trust your clients to tell them what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Even if the client gets mad, your relationship is so strong, that he or she won’t leave you.

Don’t Assume – Just because you are an expert in what you do for a living and the product or service your company provides, doesn’t necessarily mean you know what is best for your client.  Only your client determines what is valuable.  Do what it takes to find out exactly want the prospect values without any ambiguity.

Once you know what the prospect values, sell only that.  Make sure your solutions meet the prospect’s value and solve his or her problems.  If you do that, you will be a trusted adviser, a person who does something FOR a client instead of TO a client

Ultimately, you are not in the product- or service-selling business. You’re in the results-selling business. The right results, along with a trusting relationship are what your clients truly value.

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 to Find Hidden Opportunities

By Jeff Beals

“Great moments are born from great opportunities,” said the late Herb Brooks, one of the world’s most famous hockey coaches.

Brooks certainly seized opportunity during his career.  He agreed to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that beat the “unbeatable” Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York during the famous “Miracle on Ice” game on the way to winning the gold medal.  It was a modern-day “David vs. Goliath” matchup. Many coaches would refuse such an overwhelmingly difficult job.  In fact, several did.

But Brooks saw opportunity in the monumental challenge of leading a bunch of young, college all-stars against the essentially professional players of the Soviet Union.

That opportunity paid off, to say the least.

Whether you’re talking about sports, business or any other subject matter, seeking, finding and capitalizing on opportunity are among the most important things a professional must do.

There’s one big problem with opportunity, however.  It is often hard to find and even harder to harness.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations,” said religious author Charles Swindoll.

I agree wholeheartedly with Swindoll’s characterization.  The best opportunities are often hidden.  They are often located in places we least expect to find them and are presented by people we least expect to provide them.

That reminds me of the old story that sales managers like to share with their young trainees: “On his way back from a three-day fishing trip, a multi-millionaire visits the showroom of an upscale, luxury car dealer.  The salespersons, seeing an unshaven, disheveled, poorly dressed man, essentially ignore him.  Offended, the multi-millionaire buys a top-of-the-line model the next day from a direct competitor.”  There are a lot of ways to tell that classic missed-sales-opportunity story, but they all sound something like that.

If opportunity is so important to our success, and so difficult to find and recognize, we need to focus more of our energy on it.  Unless you’re naturally good at it, finding and capitalizing on opportunity needs to be a deliberate focus:

Open your eyes and ears – we can no longer afford to be indifferent, or even worse, oblivious to the world around us.  Be on the lookout for ideas that could lead to new opportunities.  Even more important than eyes and ears, keep your mind open too.  Many of us miss opportunities, because they don’t fit into our pre-existing paradigms.

Remember that all people count – sometimes we get so obsessed with the “right” people, we miss out on valuable opportunities from people, who on the surface, can do seemingly nothing for us.

Fight through the fear – one of the biggest reasons we miss out on extraordinary opportunities is because we are too afraid to leap.  Herb Brooks wasn’t too afraid to leap; we shouldn’t be either.

Take risks – As the old saying goes, “nothing risked, nothing gained.”  Unless you take a chance and do something new, you’ll keep running into the same old opportunities.

Work really hard – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” said the great inventor Thomas Edison.

Set meaningful goals – make those goals specific too.  The more you clarify what you really want, the quicker you will recognize it when it shows up.

Find quiet time – many people have found great opportunities, because they prayed for them or spent time meditating about them.  Such activity creates focus in your mind, and a focused mind is a powerful mind.

Believe – visualize success and tell yourself that good things will come.  A positive mind is more receptive to hidden opportunity.

Prepare – as the old Boy Scout motto says, “be prepared.”  You never know when the perfect opportunity will open up.  If you’re not prepared, you might not act on it quickly enough.  In his autobiography, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he believes in “relentless preparation.”  He constantly prepares for crisis, so he will perform properly.  Same thing applies to opportunity.

Could You Use Some Help?

At any given time, I personally coach a handful of sales leaders and top producers.  Whether you want to recruit better talent, motivate an underachieving team or just want to advance your career, it might make sense for us to work together.

Here’s a testimonial from a sales leader I worked with last year:

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales-and-leadership coach, I have signed over 20 new, 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

All my coaching clients complete three personal assessments and one organizational assessment, so we can design a customized program for you and your company.

If you believe you could benefit from professional coaching, the first step is to schedule a telephone conversation.  We’ll figure out the right path from there.  Call 402-510-7468 or simply respond 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 to Beat the RFP Process

By Jeff Beals

Yesterday was one of our full-day meetings for the Sales Leader Mastermind Group, a leadership program my company provides for executives who lead sales teams.  Our mastermind discussions are always fascinating, but a particular topic came up that always rankles me: RFPs.  One of my members was lamenting that RFPs were becoming more common in his industry.

I find everything about the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process to be irritating, and I rarely respond to them.  Clients who expect me to participate in an RFP are generally not good candidates for my customized services.

I hate RFPs, because they are one-sided, manipulative tools that reduce your offerings to disposable commodities and ultimately deliver mediocre results to the client. Everybody loses in the RFP process:

  • A company decides it needs a new vendor, so several employees sit down and think of all the things they do and don’t want and then dream up a bunch of hoops for would-be vendors to jump through.
  • They send the RFP to every potential vendor they can think of.
  • Prospective vendors practically do backflips trying to meet all the RFP requirements and end up rushing to meet the deadline.
  • The company that issued the RFP then examines all the proposals that were submitted and compares them.  Ultimately, they decide that some of the proposals are basically offering the same products/services, so they choose the lowest-priced bid.
  • And it can get even worse.  The finalists are sometimes pitted against each other in a bidding war to see who is willing to discount their price to the lowest number. It’s a race to the bottom.
  • The “winner” ends up doing a lot of work for too little money.
  • The client gets a product or service that is watered down or delivered by an inferior vendor who was willing to “give away the farm” in order to get the business.

This is not a recipe for happiness and high profitability.

Generally speaking, I recommend you respond to RFPs only when your relationship with the client is so strong that you are essentially guaranteed of winning.  Some companies have policies requiring that vendor relationships go out to bid periodically. If this is the case at one of your best client companies, tell them you will help write the RFP.  You can then write the RFP to favor you and the way you do business.

If you don’t write the RFP, or at least have heavy influence on the RFP, it very well could be an expensive waste of your time replying to the RFP.  An exception would be when the RFP is a mere formality designed to make shareholders feel better and you are the pre-chosen winner.

Now, I realize that there are some industries where RFPs are a rooted part of the culture. In other words, they’re so common that there’s no getting around them.  That’s not the case in most industries.  When at all possible, avoid RFPs.  You have little chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you spend tons of time and money preparing a proposal and get no revenue in return. If by some miracle, you are chosen, you’re probably going to get skewered on price.

When at all possible, just say “no” to RFPs!

The Top 41 Motivational Speakers

ResourcefulSelling.com just published its list of “Top 41 Motivational Speakers Who Can Energize Any Sales Team.”  Guess who made the list!

Check it out by clicking HERE.

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 to Be More Creative

By Jeff Beals

Back in 1866, a 19-year-old man in Louisville, Kentucky purposely requested the overnight shift when he accepted a new job working on the Associated Press news wire. The typically quiet wee hours of the morning allowed him plenty of time to do what he truly enjoyed: reading, imagining and testing his new ideas.

One evening he got a little carried away. The curious young man was working with a lead-acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto the boss’s desk downstairs. The next morning he was promptly terminated.[1]

In retrospect, the whole world should be thankful he was fired, for that young man was Thomas Edison, who would go on to become one of the world’s most prolific inventors. Few people in history have done more to improve the human condition.

Edison’s creativity earned him a personal fortune and helped crank up the American industrial economy. While creativity was important in the 19th Century, it’s immeasurably more important in today’s complex, global economy. Have you ever thought about how you could achieve more success by leveraging your creative abilities?

To help you get your creative juices flowing, here are my “Top 10 Ways to Be More Creative”:

1. Curiously explore your world – creative people never stop asking questions.

2. Be well-rounded – even if you have a highly specialized job, learn about other professions and avocations. Keep up-to-date with the world around you.

3. Spend time with someone from outside your industry – imagine how that industry’s practices can be transferred to yours.

4. Exercise & eat a healthy diet – releasing those endorphins helps you conjure up new ideas while good nutrition keeps your brain healthy.

5. Mentally exercise – puzzles, quizzes, games and mind-mapping help you condition your brain for idea formulation.

6. Do something artistic – this is especially important if you work in a technical, analytical or highly quantitative field.

7. Fear only fear itself – consider your risks to be opportunities. Many of the world’s most successful people have failed before getting it right.

8. Tolerate ambiguity – if your life is too administered and oppressively structured, you are less likely to encounter an “aha” moment.

9. Avoid anti-creativity traps – group-think and excessive rationalization kill creativity.

10. Use props – when trying to come up with new ideas, randomly gather a handful of physical objects and imagine how they could relate to your problem or question. Write down your ideas – even the silly ones. After a while, you just might come up with the perfect solution.

The Hungarian-born, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Now is the time to look at YOUR business/job/life and start thinking what nobody else has thought.

[1] Baldwin, Neal (1995). Edison: Inventing the Century. Hyperion.

One of the World’s Best Sales Speakers

ResourcefulSelling.com just published its list of “Top 41 Motivational Speakers Who Can Energize Any Sales Team.”  You might recognize one of the guys who made the list.

Check it out by clicking HERE.

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.