So What Do You Do for a Living? Crafting a No-Gobbledygook Answer

By Jeff Beals

In the 1980s, millions of professionals heard about a new concept: the “elevator speech” or sometimes referred to as the “elevator pitch.”

As you move in and out of office buildings, you sometimes bump into someone who could possibly become a client or hire you for a new job.  You need to be prepared to say what you do quickly, in the time it takes the elevator to go from the lobby to the office upstairs.  During this time, you want to sound impressive while conveying something that the listener would find intriguing.

Back in the 80s, people would spend a lot of time developing and rehearsing these 20-to-30-second speeches.  Many people do the same thing today.

Over the years, the elevator speech unfortunately has become bastardized as people try to cram too much into it.  Elevator speeches have also been ruined by people trying to sound artificially impressive by littering their pitches with junk language, meaningless-but-fancy words.

The increasing reliance on junk language keeps popping up all over the place.

Upon arriving at the office one morning, I opened my email account and read this message:

Hello Jeff. I am writing to find out who at your company would be responsible for evaluating suite-of-services solutions that expand your competitive advantage across the enterprise.

“Suite-of-services solutions?” “Competitive advantage across the enterprise?”

Those are English words but certainly not plain English.

If this salesperson’s goal was to promptly get his email deleted, he succeeded. I can’t think of any reason on Earth why a prospect would bother responding to such a message. Not only is it a red warning flag that a salesman is stalking you, the message is full of annoying junk language.  It’s not providing the reader anything he or she would value.

Sadly, junk language is not limited to email sales pitches. It’s extremely common in networking settings.

I’m amazed at the drivel that comes from the mouths of professionals at networking events. Go to any cocktail party mixer, ask someone what they do, and you might get an answer that sounds something like this:

“I engage progressive, forward-thinking Fortune 500 companies that are seeking to shift their paradigm and adopt more of a global platform. I work with them to facilitate the development of strategic, integrated, highly actionable management solutions, which will boost their bottom line.”

That’s actually an elevator speech, but it’s not a very good one.

When people talk like this, they’re trying to sound impressive. Unfortunately, when we use twenty-five-dollar words, industry jargon and the latest, in-style buzzwords, we end up sounding anything but impressive. Convoluted double-speak is often used to cover up the fact that the speaker really doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

Plain English, carefully crafted and skillfully delivered, is far more impressive and makes for better elevator speeches than the gobbledygook that too many people believe sounds “intellectual.”

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Sign the Deal after Passing the Moment of Truth

By Jeff Beals

A few key beliefs and behaviors contribute to the creation and maintenance of a trusting business relationship:

  • Mirror the other person’s actions, voice and mannerisms.
  • Put aside your own interests to focus on what the other person cares about.
  • Tell the truth
  • Treat people as you would like to be treated.
  • Be empathetic and consequently respectful to the other person’s feelings and beliefs.
  • Establish a long track record that shows you always do the right thing.
  • Be a rock, the type of person upon whom others can always rely.
  • Pass the moment of truth

At some point in a relationship with any given prospect, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. This is the moment of truth.  How you decide to act, the decision you make, determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and you may lose the client forever.

Keep in mind that moments of truth are true sales opportunities.  Embrace them as a chance to prove your trustworthiness and advance the relationship thus locking up a loyal career-long client.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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“Relentless” Preparation Leads to Success

By Jeff Beals

The Boy Scouts have a great motto, which should be adopted by anyone interested in achieving success the sales world: “be prepared.”

The Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes said, “To be prepared is half the battle.” You never know when an opportunity will arise, so you must always be ready.

Not only must you always be positioned to embrace opportunity, you must also be prepared to deal with challenge.

On September 11, 2001, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dealt with a challenge that no other municipal leader in U.S. history had ever faced. The savage terrorism at the World Trade Center that day stunned the world, but it did not destroy the spirit of New York City.

Some of the credit for New York’s steadfastness goes to its then-leader. In his book, Leadership, Giuliani said he was able to stay calm in the face of crisis because of preparation, which he defines as “not assuming a damn thing.” Giuliani goes further and advocates “relentless preparation,” which allows you to anticipate potential trouble before it arrives.  Preparing for a wide-range of contingencies was a daily part of Giuliani’s tenure at mayor.

Hopefully, you will never have to lead a city through a 9/11-like disaster, but in your own career, you must always be prepared. You must have contingencies in place in case the unexpected happens. Plan what you will say in certain situations.  Plan how you will act in certain situations. For example, outstanding baseball players rehearse in their minds what they’ll do with the ball if it is hit in their direction at any given point in the game.  Outstanding salespeople already know how they’ll respond to a wide range of things before those things even occur.

Relentless preparation means that you are mentally prepared for any sort of opportunity or threat that could come flying out of left field at the most unexpected time.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Are There Any New Marketing Ideas Left Under the Sun?

By Jeff Beals

You probably have heard the Biblical phrase, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  It comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes written in 935 B.C.

Regular readers have probably noticed that my thoughts about modern-day success are often rooted in history.  I’m a history buff, because I truly believe history repeats itself over and over in one way or another.  Stories from the past illustrate my beliefs about things like sales, marketing and personal branding today and help me predict what will happen in the future.

Back in the 1800s, Abraham Lincoln said, “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”

You may have heard the quote “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” purportedly said by a 19th Century U.S. government official.

Like many historical phrases, these quotes need to be considered in context.

In one sense, there really is nothing new under the sun.  After thousands of years of history and perhaps 100 billion human beings having existed on Earth, it’s hard to imagine anything that is truly new.

But on the other hand, the world is changing rapidly.  Technological advances occur at a dizzying pace. New discoveries constantly deepen the extent of human knowledge and understanding.

There are a lot of new-sounding and new-looking things out there.

I was talking with a fellow author a few days ago.  She has been struggling lately trying to come up with a title for her new book.  She shared with me several possible titles she was considering.  She mentioned something during our conversation that caught my ear: each time she thought of a title, she entered it into Amazon.com to make sure an existing book didn’t already carry that title.  Thankfully for her, none of her possible titles were currently in use.  If you think about it, that’s actually amazing.  Amazon carries tens of millions of books.  It’s hard to believe there are any titles out there that still haven’t been taken.

Our changing world constantly brings us new ways of looking at established thinking.

Mark Twain summed it up fittingly: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

So essentially, we do keep coming up with new ideas, but they are rooted in and their creation made possible by the ideas we have already thought.

Here’s one thing I know about professional life in this day and age: You need to be creative in order to succeed.  You need creativity in your personal branding efforts.  You need to be creative in the way you market goods and services.  You need creativity to be noticed in a loud and crowded marketplace.

We need cutting-edge ideas.  We need new ways of thinking.  We need to do things that none of our competitors are doing.

Where can we find these ideas?  It’s a combination.  We find them by looking forward and backwards at the same time.

We must anticipate the future, while constantly scouring the past for things that have worked or didn’t work because they weren’t executed properly.  I truly believe that the keys to the future are hidden in history.  Find old ideas that none of your competitors seem to know and adapt them to what you are doing now.

Don’t reinvent the wheel; reengineer it.  Adapt the wheel to suit your modern needs.  Be creative, but never forget that success and failure can be predicted based upon what has transpired before your time.

As the philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Closing is a Formality, a Foregone Conclusion

Jeff Beals

A closing can occur at any time in the sales process but usually doesn’t happen until after you have climbed the relationship ladder and established trust. Every once in a while, you get those wonderful surprises when someone swoops into your office and asks you to sign them up. In most industries, that seldom happens. Instead of waiting for pleasant surprises, go out and find prospects. Ask them questions. Discover what causes them pain and bring value to them by solving their problems.

While closings tend to be foregone formalities when you have worked the selling process properly, you normally do need to go ahead and ask for the order. Even if they’re really interested, most clients will wait for you to initiate the close. If you don’t, they might end up going with a competitor because you didn’t say, “Let’s fill out the paperwork.”

Because you have done a thorough job with all the steps leading up to closing, all you have to do is just ask.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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The Sweetest Word in the World

By Jeff Beals

John Rogers got the call no salesperson likes to receive but periodically gets anyway.

It was one of those angry-customer calls.

The customer had purchased a piece of new equipment two hours earlier from John’s sound-and-lighting company.  The equipment was to be used at a major outdoor event.  Shortly after the customer set up the equipment, it fizzled out, went kaput and stopped working completely.  This created stress as the customer was about to host hundreds of his own customers.  The sound equipment was an essential part of his event.

John rushed a replacement piece to the site.  Upon arriving, he discovered the customer was pretty hot.

John introduced himself and said, “I’m really sorry you had a problem.  What’s your name, sir?”

When the man said “Chris,” John followed up with, “Do you spell it with a ‘C’ or ‘K’?”

The angry customer’s frowns dissolved into a smile, and his eyes lit up. “It’s a ‘K.’ Thanks for asking.”

John changed out the equipment, gave Kris a couple tips on the realistic output he could expect in an outdoor environment versus the face-ripping volume displayed in the audio-visual company’s small showroom.

Kris took pictures of the exact way John set the controls and said, “You guys are AWESOME!”  It was an instant turn-around in attitude and perception.

Customer anger morphed into customer delight.

So what are the take-aways from this story?

John says that two things often happen when you ask someone exactly how their name is spelled:

1. Your customer thinks you care enough about them to get their name right. Most people do not care enough to ask.

2. You have another chance to hear the customer’s name and are thus more likely to commit the name to memory.

Back in the 1930’s, Dale Carnegie told us that a person’s first name is the “sweetest word in the English language” to that person. Or if you’re in John’s line of work, you might say that “the sound of your name is music to your ears.”

John believes that we win when we remember who we are talking to and take the time to show that person how important he or she is to us.

I couldn’t agree more.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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13 Keys to a Successful Sales Presentation

By Jeff Beals

Keep these 13 things in mind as you prepare for your next sales presentation:

  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.
  2. Before a sales meeting, do your background detective work and establish initial relationships via telephone.
  3. Don’t just focus on features and benefits . Think about building a trusting relationship with the prospect.
  4. A presentation isn’t all talk. Make sure to listen as well.
  5. Structure your sales presentation logically and persuasively, taking advantage of human nature.
  6. When you coach and facilitate your prospects, the hard sell is not necessary.
  7. Determine what part of your sales presentation is boilerplate and which part is to be customized. Focus your preparation on the customized part.
  8. Cast a vision of how great life will be with your product or service by using a little showmanship during the sales presentation.
  9. Highlighting value-added benefits can be just enough to push the deal over the top.
  10. Over-reliance on audio/visual aids is one of the biggest mistakes you could make.
  11. Tell the truth, communicate earnestly and be yourself but be the most appealing version of yourself.
  12. Two presenters are usually better than one, but three presenters can feel like a crowd.
  13. Doing something a little special and out of the ordinary makes prospects feel as if you truly value them and their business.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Don’t Be Intimidated. 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 someday.  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.  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.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Some “Cutting-Edge” Sales Ideas Come from History

By Jeff Beals

You want a new idea – an edge or advantage – in your sales work?  Take a moment to look back in time…

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 an audience of 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.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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