Selling Against Your Friends

By Jeff Beals

Relationships with sales professionals from competing companies can be touchy.

It is in your best interest to have positive relationships with your competitors, but you have to be careful.  On one hand, such relationships keep job possibilities open for you, and if you’re a sales leader, these relationships form a candidate pool from which you can hire.

On the other hand, it’s easy to let your guard down when you befriend competitors thus compromising your company’s position.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to befriending people who want to beat you in the sales arena:

  • Even if you have the heart of a cut-throat competitor, be cordial when you run into the competition. You never know when you actually might need them.
  • A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and superficial talk.  Don’t divulge your secrets.
  •  If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps.  Befriend sales pros from much larger companies.  They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.
  • If you engage in one-upmanship and gamesmanship with competitors, make sure you do it for valuable reasons and not simply to boost your ego or satisfy a constant craving for competition.  If you engage in one-upmanship just for the fun of it, be careful – make sure the other person has a thick skin and/or good sense of humor.  Friendships among competitors can be fragile.
  • Sometimes you must get between your client and your competitor.  That’s not just figuratively “in between” them; it might be a good idea to show up if you know your client is going to encounter a competitor.  In highly competitive sales efforts, your personal, physical presence may be necessary to ward off competitors looking to steal your client at the last minute
  • As appropriate, find ways to “hide” your prospects from your competitors.  If you find a “diamond-in-the-rough” client, don’t let the world know about him or her.  Do what you can to keep them under the radar.
  • All is fair in love, war and sales. Because business can be so brutally competitive, some sales leaders look for ways not only to beat the competition but to weaken it preemptively.  Many of Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese theories on military strategy apply to the game of sales. In sales, you sometimes need to outflank the competition, employ the element of surprise and weaken your competitors before you even begin the battle.  A dramatic way to strike a blow to a competitor is to hire away one of their sales reps.  If you can’t beat ’em, steal their best salesperson.

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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If Emotion Can Nearly Bring Down a 300-Year Union, Think What It Can Do for You!

By Jeff Beals

Tensions flared and emotions ran high as the calendar neared Election Day. For weeks, television reports showed footage of passionate citizens campaigning – feverishly trying to convince their fellow countrymen and countrywomen to vote one way or another. Images of large crowds holding little blue signs saying “YES” and “NO THANKS” will be remembered for generations.

It was an historic vote that took place recently in Scotland. The ballot language was simple: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Such a simple question. Such raw emotion.

A group of Scottish nationalists had been urging the Scots to vote for independence and thus end the country’s 307-year union with the United Kingdom. Geographically, Scotland is small and its population is little more than 5 million. But it’s an important part of the U.K. for both cultural and economic reasons.

For a while, the pro-independence nationalists, known as the “YES” campaign, looked like they might pull it off. They stirred passions, inflamed feelings of Scottish pride and painted a rosy picture of what life might be like in an independent Scotland.

A pro-British-union group, known as the “NO” campaign, sprung up to protect the status quo. Politicians in London, desperate to keep the union intact, promised concessions and incentives if the Scots voted to stay.

In the end, the “NO” campaign won as the Scots voted 55-to-45-percent to remain part of the U.K. While the final margin was 10 percent, the polls showed a much closer race just a couple weeks prior. At times during the campaign, it appeared to be a toss-up.

I’m not Scottish. I’ve never been to Scotland. And other than a European history class in college and watching Braveheart on cable 20 years ago, I’m not schooled in Scottish history.

But I was fascinated with this election and the campaign preceding it.

Like many political campaigns, emotion played a key role.

A quote in the Wall Street Journal illustrates that emotion: “My heart says ‘yes’ but my head says ‘no,'” said Kyle McBride a 21-year-old resident of Glasgow who supported independence.

If you look at the campaign from a purely logical perspective, most Scots are probably better off keeping the status quo. Had the country chosen independence, the economic ramifications, at least in the first few years, could have been onerous.

Choosing independence generally would have been a “heart” decision over a “head” decision. I’m not saying “head” decisions are always best and that “heart” decisions are bad. I usually think with my head, but sometimes it does make sense to go with your heart. As a non-Scottish and non-British person, I didn’t really care which side won.

The point here is that the use of emotion, playing to the Scottish people’s hearts, was effective. Until the “NO” campaign pulled out all the stops near the end, there was a decent chance the “YES” campaign would have won. Scotland would have shocked the world.

I have often said that a person’s life is like an ongoing political campaign. We are all “running” for something. We’re all trying to “get elected” to whatever is important to us.

Political campaigns have a long history of using emotion. Businesses have also played on emotion to sell products. Individuals often rely on emotion to convince others to do something or to change their way of thinking. Emotion is powerful. It’s motivational. Emotion is flat-out useful.

Savvy professionals search for and identify the emotion in any situation. They figure out what’s causing the emotion and take it into consideration before making a decision.

Whenever human beings are involved, emotion is present.

While it is possible to overplay the emotion card, you would be wise to harness its power. Whether you are trying to close a deal, win an argument or convince your colleagues to adopt your idea, you stand a much better chance if you understand others’ emotions, control your own emotion and manipulate emotion to support your desired outcome.

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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Rock-Solid Philosophy Paves the Way for Selling

By Jeff Beals

Sales leaders must take many steps in order to develop an effective selling strategy for their companies. One of the first steps is to determine “who you are” as a sales organization. This also means “who you are not” and “who you never want to become.”

Strategies simply are not as effective if your organization hasn’t created a culture. Determining what you are and why you want to be that is hard work. It can be tedious and sometimes argumentative if there are conflicting opinions among the leadership.

In order to determine who you are and create a healthy selling culture, leaders must set their philosophies and beliefs. Ultimately all sales and marketing efforts should rest on a philosophical foundation.

Philosophy and beliefs are your unshakable, solid foundations. They are crystalized by focusing on values, mission and vision.

First, sales leaders should record their core values. These are the qualities that mean the most to them, the lines they will not cross, the expectations they will not compromise.

Once these values are agreed upon and recorded, it’s time to develop a sales-team mission statement. A relatively short written passage, the mission statement summarizes your purpose, your reason for existence. Almost as important is the vision statement, which is a description of where you will be or what your organization will look like at some snapshot point in the future.

Core values are a big determinant of any organization’s culture whether it may be a sales team or an entire company. These are the commitments that drive you each day. Core values indicate what is truly important to you. On a broad level, these values are related to your beliefs and philosophies. More narrowly, they relate to your behavior. Core values are important to success because they keep your inner self and your outward actions synergized.

If you know where your sales team stands philosophically, you are more likely to make decisions in harmony with your organization’s true character. Acting this way will enhance your team’s long-term success.

Before taking your products and services to the market, understand what actions you will not tolerate, what corners you are not willing to cut and what ethical boundaries you are not willing to blur.

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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Thou Shalt Honor the Influencers!

By Jeff Beals

In almost any given deal, there is someone other than the decision maker who has influence over the process.  Sales pros should not only discover the influencers but must honor them as well.

Working with influencers takes work. Some salespersons resent having to take the time with people who aren’t the primary prospect. Don’t fall into this trap. Holding animosity toward influencers or even feeling annoyed because of them is dangerous. If you don’t embrace those who influence your prospect, you run the risk of scaring off both the influencer and the prospect.

Ultimately, working with an influencer is in your best long-term interest. When prospect and influencer are both sold on an organization, the prospect has a higher likelihood of being a good client and a greater chance of being retained for an extended period of time. That means you ought to be happy when the prospect’s colleagues (if it’s a B2B deal) or friends/family (if it’s a B2C sale) want to be involved in a decision.  It can be an encouraging sign when the prospect wants affirmation from people close to him or her.

Smart sales pros want influencers to be involved. Early involvement by influencers may actually increase the likelihood of client/customer retention down the road.

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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