GUEST BLOG: The One Question Ultra-High Sales Performers Never Ask

Jeb Blount New Book

By Jeb Blount, Author of Sales EQ:  How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal

In a recent training session, a sales rep asked this question:

“Jeb, over the past month I’ve had several of my potential accounts hit a wall because the person I was working with turned out not to be the decision maker. What is frustrating to me is these people told me in our initial meeting that they were the decision maker. I don’t understand why people lie to me like that, and I want to know how I can identify who is telling me the truth and who is not.”

Ryan is not alone in his frustration. Average salespeople often find themselves mired in stalled deals because they were dealing with the wrong person.

This often happens because the stakeholder either says outright or insinuates that he or she is the final decision maker. Believing this to be true, the salesperson goes through the sales process with the stakeholder: connecting, discovering, presenting solutions, and asking for the business.

Then bam! Out of nowhere the stakeholder says: “Thank you for this great information, but I’m going to need to review this with my boss (the committee, my husband, wife, friend, peers, etc.) before we can make a decision.”

It Makes You Want to Scream

If you’ve been in this situation, and I bet you have, it makes you want to scream. You try to salvage the situation by asking for a meeting with their boss, but most of the time they’re unwilling to give you access. But, you fear if you go around them you’ll poison the relationship and lose any hope of closing the deal. It is an awful conundrum.

The net result, your deal is stalled. You try to explain it to your sales manager and put things in the best light. But you’ve still got egg on your face because you’ve been had by your stakeholder. I know. I’ve been there, done that, and have the T-shirt to prove it.

How does this happen? How do salespeople get themselves into this situation?

Let’s begin with reality. Sometimes there is no way around it. Sometimes you are not going to get to the decision maker and will be stuck working through an influencer. The key is knowing this up front and adjusting your strategy to align the sales and buying processes with reality.

Sometimes you are dealing with a deceitful person who knows how the game is played. These people have no intention of doing business with you. They’re just using you for free consulting or pricing information to use as leverage with your competitor. These stakeholders are easy to spot because they are unwilling to engage, resist emotional connections, renege on commitments, and rush you through the sales process just to get what they want. Salespeople driven by desperation and unable to control their disruptive emotions get used by this type of prospect.

The most common reason for getting stuck with the wrong person, though, is the salesperson asks one simple but deadly question:

“Are you the decision maker?”

This is the one question ultra-high sales performers never ask when qualifying a prospect because when you ask this question to any stakeholder, 90 percent of the time they are going to say yes.

Triggering Cognitive Dissonance

Why would a stakeholder lie to you so blatantly? Most stakeholders don’t say they are the decision maker, when they are not, from ill intent. They are not bad people trying to hurt you.

When you ask a person “Are you the decision maker?” you trigger cognitive dissonance. If the stakeholder says no, they are forced to admit openly that they are not important, which conflicts with their self-image that they are important, creating painful mental stress.

So, they say yes because it makes them feel significant. They blurt it out without even thinking.

Then you, the salesperson, reinforce the white lie with attention, compliments, and your focus. It works great for both parties until the moment of truth when you ask for a commitment and the stakeholder’s little house of cards crumbles.

This, by the way, is why your supposed decision maker disappears and your deal stalls. They are embarrassed to admit that they have little power, have wasted your time, and are not important.

Jeb Blount is the author of eight books including Sales EQ Fanatical Prospecting, and People Follow You. He is a Sales Acceleration specialist who helps sales organizations reach peak performance fast by optimizing talent, leveraging training to cultivate a high-performance sales culture, developing leadership and coaching skills, and applying a more effective organizational design. Contact: 1-888-360-2249 or  https://www.SalesGravy.com

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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

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How Much Easier Would Life Be If You Were Slightly Famous?

By Jeff Beals

In our warp-speed world, it’s growing more and more difficult to catch the attention of prospective employers and would-be clients. It’s hard to cut through the clutter and get people to notice you.  That’s why you need to establish a widely recognized and highly respected personal brand.  Your business life gets easier when you’re slightly famous.

But how do you do that in an effective way that won’t take too much time or bust your budget?

Seek to become famous in your own “sphere of interest” by tapping into the group of people who in any way can help you reach your goals- clients, prospective clients, anybody who could refer clients to you or anybody who could hire you. Each professional has potentially thousands of people in his or her sphere of interest. Some have millions, but whoever you are and whatever your goals may be, you want to become a celebrity among those people who can have an impact on your success.

When someone needs the talents you have or the products you sell, you want your name and face to pop into that person’s head. That’s what personal branding is all about-being recognized as the go-to source, the safe option, the obvious choice.

How do you become a celebrity in your own sphere of interest?

For starters, be excellent in your work. Never stop preparing and planning.  Be disciplined and work hard.

Unfortunately, however, excellence is far from enough. In this competitive world, your talent and hard work are simply expected. Performance is merely foundational. Assume your competition is working just as hard as you and is even more talented than you. In such an environment, your personal brand is one of the few things that sets you apart.

You as an Entity

See yourself as an entity, not just as a human being. You are a man or a woman, but you are also a brand, a business, a business of one, a business unto yourself. Every business worth its salt jealously guards the integrity of its brand while zealously promoting it. So must you. You need to approach your personal brand promotion with the same intensity as your company promotes its brand.

The Mini Politician

Next, think like a politician. That’s not to say you should adopt the nefarious and tawdry behavior of too many politicians, rather it means you understand you are in a lifelong series of “campaigns” seeking to be “elected” to whatever it is that matters to you. A politician works hard to build a core group of people who would “run through a brick wall” for him or her. That core is built and strengthened by networking-going out and deliberately meeting and building relationships with as many people as possible.

Unfortunately, politicians never meet most of the voters in their spheres of interest. For everyone outside the core, politicians at least want people to recognize their names and have a positive feeling associated with them. To reach these people, politicians use mass media, social media and word of mouth.

All sorts of analogies exist between political campaigning and the personal branding game. Like a politician, you need to build your core relentlessly and never stop building it no matter how big and strong it becomes. You can then use social media and word of mouth to project your personal brand to your “voters,” the people in your sphere of interest.

An External Focus

“Celebrities in their spheres of interest” deliberately lead active lives and focus externally. They are involved, energetic and engaged in their communities. At the same time, they are focused on meeting new people and building relationships. Great salespersons are never satisfied with their current number of personal contacts.

They’re never satisfied with the current status of relationships. They realize that if those things don’t continually grow, they might actually be declining.

We need to get out of the office and show up at networking events. We need to reach out and engage the world around us. Strike up conversations with people around you. Reach out to people and get to know those who might refer an opportunity to you some day.  The majority of jobs are never advertised, because they are part of the vast, hidden job market. Being connected gives you access. The majority of prestigious, big-time clients in the typical industry can only be reached through relationships.  They do not commonly walk into your office asking to be your customer. They aren’t amenable to cold calls, and they won’t respond to your direct mail piece no matter how pretty it is. “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.

Good personal branders are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere. 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

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals

Social Proof cover 150 RGB

By Jeff Beals

The sales manager got a lead on a nice piece of business. It was big enough of a deal that he assigned two sales reps to the account: Julie and David. Those two had worked together many times and had landed more than their share of big deals.

As expected, Julie and David did their due diligence before meeting with the prospect. During the first meeting, they asked questions and focused on what the client truly valued. After three meetings, it was time for the client to make his decision. Julie and David were confident. They’d really hit it off with the client. Everything “felt” right, so it was quite a surprise when they got the bad news: the client had chosen a competing company.

What happened? Julie and David did a post-mortem call to find out why they didn’t win the business. “It was very close,” the client said, “but the other company had a lot of testimonials.”

Seriously?!!? They lost a multi-million-dollar deal because of some testimonials?

This is actually a true story.

Even in sophisticated, high-ticket-price transactions, winning and losing can actually come down to little things like references and testimonials.

It’s called “social proof” and it’s one of the most powerful tools in a sales professional’s arsenal.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and 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.

Simply put, social proof is why testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.

But social proof has grown in importance in recent years. Why is that? The Internet.

Prospective clients can access social media reviews of your company with the simple click of a mouse, which means it’s getting harder to hide bad service and inferior products. But because so much information about companies and products is so readily available, buyers have come to expect social proof. Prospects want hard evidence that you’re a safe choice.

Social proof can literally be the difference between success and failure in today’s ultra-competitive selling environment. Make sure your sales tool box is stocked with the best tools available…

To continue reading about testimonials and referrals, download Jeff Beals’ brand-new eBook: “Social Proof: How to Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals.”

You can download it for FREE by clicking here 

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

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Hire the Best Sales Professionals

By Jeff Beals

What’s the number one indicator of future success?

Frequent past behavior.

Do you have responsibility for hiring sales professionals?  If you’re not directly responsible for hiring, do you have influence over which candidates are chosen for sales jobs?

If so, you need to see clearly and think deeply. Don’t be fooled by flash and glamour.  Instead, focus on the basics and carefully examine exactly what candidates have done in their previous work.

The way a person has frequently behaved in the past is probably how they will behave in future.  Study the past carefully.  Ask detailed and probing questions.  Ask uncomfortable questions.  Do your homework and use other sources to find information about a person before hiring them.

Extroverts vs. Introverts? 

I have two kids. My son is an extrovert, while my daughter is an introvert. People are naturally drawn to my son and he makes friends easily both with adults and other kids.  He’s charismatic. People will often say to my son, “You should be in sales like your dad!”

Why do they tell him such things?  Well, because most people assume successful sales professionals are gregarious and outgoing.  Stereotypically, salespeople are loud, confident and comfortable being the center of attention, the life of the party.  Salespeople are supposed to be extroverts, right?

Despite all the outward advantages my son has as a would-be sales professional, my introverted daughter may end up being better at selling than her big-personality brother. Why?  She’s a great listener and she remembers everything.

The single most important thing you can do if you want to be successful in sales is to discover exactly what your client values without making any assumptions.  The single best way to do that is to listen intently and get inside your client’s head.  Keep that in mind when you are looking for sales talent.

Now obviously, prospective salespeople do need some level of charisma, and it does take some confidence to pick up the phone and call a complete stranger.  But don’t discount the quiet, introspective and studious personalities.  They might have to push themselves to make the initial call, but they could very well end up having a higher closing percentage because would-be customers will like their sincerity and authenticity.

Hiring Sales Managers

What About Hiring Sales Managers? What about hiring the people who will lead your company’s sales team on a day-to-day basis?

The most important advice I can give you is don’t be blinded by talent.

Who is most commonly promoted to sales manager?  Someone who has done a great job as a sales producer. At first glance, that might seem like a good idea.

Many executives think great sales reps make great sales managers, but that is frequently not the case.  How can you tell?  Look outside their patently obvious skills and attributes and determine who has the capacity to organize, manage budgets, coach, motivate and discipline people.

Great salespeople, especially the naturals who haven’t had to work terribly hard to be successful, aren’t always good at teaching others how to be successful.  Similarly, star athletes don’t often make successful coaches if the game came easily to them during their playing days; they can have a hard time relating to players who struggle and need time to develop.

If you’re a sales leader, hiring is one of the two or three most important things you will do. You will be judged on the success of your people, so shoot for the moon when you’re hiring.

Don’t be intimidated and don’t let your ego get the best of you – surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you are.  If you want to be a winner, surround yourself with winners.  Never hire anyone unless they are completely motivated to succeed and move up in the world.  Only hire salespeople and sales managers who play to win and are competitive.

You want sales professionals who are ambitious, and as long as they maintain their ethics, just a little bit greedy.

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

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com