K.I.S.S. for Sales Practitioners

By Jeff Beals

When I was a nine-year-old in 1978, my family went to an air show produced annually by the U.S. Air Force at Offutt Air Force Base. Countless aircraft were on display, and the Air Force even allowed guests to go inside some of the planes.

But there was one displayed aircraft that was roped off, and a couple intimidating security guards stood by making sure no guests went past the rope line. It was the SR-71 “Blackbird,” which just two years prior (in 1976), had set the world record as the fastest manned aircraft. The SR-71 achieved a speed of 3,530 kilometers per hour (2,193 mph). That meant it could travel from Los Angeles to New York City in little more an hour.

The SR-71 served the U.S. Airforce from 1964 to 1998 and not a single one was lost in combat. Ever since that day forty years ago, I’ve been fascinated by an airplane that could move so fast. I’m also fascinated that human beings had the capability of constructing such a thing in the early 1960s without the aid of computers and other current-day technology.

Despite all the detailed technicalities involved when Lockheed built the SR-71 in Burbank, California during that Cold War era, it was a surprising principle that guided the design engineers – simplicity.

Lockheed’s lead engineer was Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, who preached the importance of simplicity even when designing what would become the world’s fastest aircraft. Johnson once gave his designers a handful of ordinary tools, with the challenge that the aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only those tools.

Additionally, Johnson developed an acronym that we still use today: K.I.S.S., which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid.”

Ever since that time, U.S. military branches and countless companies and organizations have used that acronym as a reminder to professionals not to over complicated their work. I sometimes tell myself, “Keep It Simple Stupid” when I find myself making projects unnecessarily complicated.

I’m not sure why so many people are tempted to make things more complicated than necessary. Perhaps it’s some subconscious way for us to justify our professional purposes, our highly-paid jobs and our expensive college educations. Whatever the reason, too many of us fail to break it down and get it done.

Sales practitioners are just as guilty as any group of professionals when it comes to unwarranted complication:

How many of us spend copious amounts of time on excessive prospect research instead of just calling the prospect?

How many of us obsess over the perfect sales pitch with all the audio-visual bells and whistles as opposed to figuring out what prospects truly value and proving how our solution perfectly satisfies that value?

How many sales leaders bury themselves in their offices developing complicated systems as opposed to simply sitting down with their sales reps and coaching them one-on-one?

When you find yourself getting bogged down in needless minutiae for no apparent benefit, it’s time to give yourself a K.I.S.S. moment. Be like the legendary aerospace engineer Kelly Johnson and break things down to their simplest, most fundamental level.

If a commitment to simplicity can contribute to the development of the world’s fastest aircraft, what can it do for your sales practice?

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

What Is the Truth About Relationship Selling?

By Jeff Beals

For several years now, I have been hearing that “relationship selling is dead.”

In other words, people are so busy and so self-absorbed they no longer have time to build relationships with companies and organizations. People are so time-starved that they no longer are interested in becoming “friends” with salespeople or even the owners/executives of the companies with which they do business.

Today, the argument goes, people are simply too overwhelmed for relationship-based selling to be effective.

What is relationship selling? It’s the theory that customers put so much value in the positive interaction with a company or company representative, that they develop strong feelings of loyalty, which sometimes can be even more powerful than the quality of the good or service and its price.

Well, relationship selling is still quite alive, but there have been some societal changes that have affected the way we conduct relationship selling.

It used to be that salespeople were the only true experts when it came to product features and benefits. If you wanted to learn what a product could do for your business, you had to sit down with a highly trained sales rep and ask a bunch of questions. Much of the value that the salesperson provided was in the form of knowledge dispensing.

In almost every industry, customers no longer are so dependent upon a salesperson’s knowledge. The internet provides a wide array of product information and all those blunt reviews on social media can provide incredible insight into products.

All this easily available product knowledge has sped up the sales cycle and caused buyers to see products and services as mere commodities. At the same time, if you cater to big companies, you are dealing with professional buyers who are growing ever sophisticated in how they “beat up” their vendors on price.

So, if you sell things for a living, what do you do?

Remember that building relationships with clients is still important. People like to have positive and trusting relationships with the people who provide them with products and services, but you have to build the relationship in a way and at a pace that appeals to them. These days, you have to do things a little differently:

1. Value – You must constantly focus on delivering what your customers value without assuming what they value. Only the customer can decide what is valuable to them, not you. Nobody needs to be buddies with a vendor just for the sake of having more friends. First and foremost, a business needs to provide exactly what a customer wants/needs. After that, you can differentiate yourself from the competition with a positive relationship. As long as the clients are receiving what they value, the advantage goes to whichever provider can develop the most positive connection. Life is short and full of stress, so when everything else is equal, we’d rather work with people we like.

2. Teammate – Since so much product information is available before prospects even pick up the telephone or send an email, the salesperson’s job has changed. Instead of being an all-knowing information provider, successful salespeople are coaches and guides. They listen carefully to what prospective customers want and then steer them to the best choice. If you do this properly, you WILL build a relationship that will yield fruit long into the future.

3. Speed – Because the marketplace is more hyperactive than in years past, you need to move quickly. You can still build long-term relationships but you don’t have much time to get started. Prospective customers expect calls to be returned immediately. They expect answers now instead of waiting a couple days for you to get back to them. If you’re a business leader, empower your staff to provide answers as autonomously as possible. Any delay, especially early in the selling cycle, can cause the prospect to drift over to your competitor. Gone is the old standard that “you have 24 hours to return a message.”

4. Take Charge – Once you have figured out exactly what the prospect values, it’s time to take charge.  While nobody likes a pushy salesperson, buyers do look to the sales rep to be the leader.  As long as your message is consistent with what your customer values, it’s okay to plant ideas in their heads and challenge them to think differently.

Contrary to popular belief, you could argue that business relationships are even MORE valuable than they were in the past. While customers have more knowledge and options at their disposal, they’re simultaneously under more stress. The successful sales practitioner is the one who constantly delivers client value in a pleasant and stress-free manner and knows when it’s okay to push.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Don’t Be Afraid to Give Up the Good to Go for the Great

By Jeff Beals

The 19th Century industrial magnate John D. Rockefeller famously said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

The struggle to move from good to great has captured the imagination of ambitious people for centuries if not millennia.

And it’s not just individuals. Good companies have long fixated on achieving greatness. In 2001, Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, which changed the way executives talk. For example, “get the right people on the bus,” is now firmly rooted in the global lexicon of business.

In the book, Collins asked big questions…Why do some companies do well when a similar competitor languishes? Why do some companies transition from being merely successful to being truly great? What traits separate the good from the great?

I like to ask similar questions about individual people especially those who sell things for a living – Why do some sales professionals race to the top right away while others spend 40 years wallowing in mediocrity?  Why do 20 percent of sales reps win 80 percent of the business?

After studying top-producing sales pros, I’ve come up with a list of things that can turn you from good to great:

The Foundational Stuff – For starters, the great ones have mastered all the things that “good” sales people do such as working hard, overcoming prospecting reluctance, ethics, professionalism, time management skills, self-confidence, maintaining good records, etc.

Attitude – Top producers religiously abide by three words: responsibility, authority and accountability.  They accept total responsibility for their lives and careers, they know they have the authority to carry out their responsibilities, and they are 100-percent accountable for whatever happens.  If they succeed, they graciously accept credit and never chalk it up to “luck.”  If they screw up, the take full responsibility even if they got a raw deal.  They never blame, and they refuse to be victims.

Creativity – Successful sales pros think of good things to sell and then find the right client for the idea.  Top producers often put the idea of making a purchase in the would-be client’s head long before he or she would have thought about it on their own.  Don’t wait for the ideal customer to come to you; proactively create new clients.

Persistence – In today’s crazy world in which many of your clients are simply too busy to talk to you, it commonly takes 10 or more email and voice mail messages before you reach someone.  Don’t give up.

Quick Thinking – Many deals almost die as you near closing time because of some last-minute “crisis.”  This is where outstanding salespeople shine.  Think on your feet, come up with alternatives, get the two sides to come to the table and don’t panic.

Listen Intensely – To be a top producer, you have to listen and truly hear.  It’s generally best to listen twice as much as you talk.  Great sellers don’t script questions; instead they write down the information they need and then ask the prospect whatever probing questions are necessary until they have all that info.

Extensive Product Knowledge – A great sales pro knows what he or she sells. If there were “Ten Commandments of Selling,” one of them would definitely be, “Know Thy Market.”  You need to be able to rattle of facts quickly and know the product intimately enough to answer the detailed questions that come deep in the selling process.

Speed Kills – Now that consumers can find information instantaneously, they expect super-quick service even when dealing with complicated, B2B purchases.  Responding to emails/voice mails within 24 hours simply isn’t fast enough anymore.  We must be as responsive as possible.

Think Long Term – The best sales reps realize that a short-term or self-serving gain is never worth the long-term price.  There’s an old saying that goes, “Client before commission.”  Those who follow this never seem to have trouble making a lot of commission in the end.

Constantly learning – To be a top-one-percenter in sales, you must constantly learn.  Top producers are always looking to improve, always looking for an edge.  They also hunt for new technologies that can make them more efficient or differentiate them from the pack.  Also seek out mentors and coaches.

Think Big –The smaller the deal, the bigger the headache. Don’t waste much time on deals that pay very little. Time is the single scarcest resource in the world.  Use your time in such a way that delivers the biggest bang for the buck.

Specialization – Drill deep in order to go broad!  Those reps who become experts and spend at least 75% of their time in one specialty area, almost always do better than the generalists.  People pay a premium for true subject matter experts.  It’s why surgical physicians bring home more money than general practitioners.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Would You Benefit by Having a Coach?

By Jeff Beals

What do Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky have in common?

They’re all world-class athletes who have won championships?  Yes.

They’re all incredibly famous?  Yes.

But there’s something else they all have in common.  Each had coaches who helped them reach the pinnacle of their sports.

Not only do athletes benefit from coaching, they probably would never win a championship without it.  Well, if coaching is so advantageous for professional athletes, it makes sense that other professionals would gain similar benefits from coaching.

I would argue that sales professionals benefit more from coaching than your typical professional.  Sales is not necessarily rocket science, but it does require you to master an array of differing skills and attitudes.

Mindset is incredibly important in sales, because the profession requires you to be passionate.  An accountant, for instance, can be bored to tears yet still do an effective job.  In many professions, you can hate your job, and even be turned off by the products your company sells, and still manage to be effective.

That’s not the case in sales where it makes a big difference when you’re excited about the product and a believer in the company.  But sometimes even passionate sales reps become discouraged when things go wrong: you hit a prospecting slump; the economy goes south or deals fall through at the last minute unexpectedly.  A coach can help you with mindset, keeping your energy and enthusiasm flowing when things don’t go your way.

Sales also requires a person to master somewhat dichotomous skills.  You need to be both an attentive listener and compelling presenter.  You need to have strong emotional intelligence skills yet be analytical when determining the profitability of a potential deal.

Should you have a coach?  That’s a personal decision, but the research tells us that those sales professionals who have access to coaching enjoy more success.  And that applies to sales professionals of all levels – from chief sales officer to entry-level sales rep.

Coaches come in a variety of forms, but most are informal coaches.  The typical way to get a coach is to find someone in your company who can advise you and help you grow as a professional.  That can be a boss, an experienced colleague who wants to give back or even a person from a different department or company who enjoys helping people succeed.  Some sales pros will work with a retired sales leader they happen to know.

Of course, you can also hire professional sales coaches.  There are many companies that provide this service.  If you go that route, ask around and find someone who has had a good experience with a sales coach and feels like they got a lot of value for their money.

What do you look for in a coach?  First and foremost, you want a good listener.  You want to find a person who wants to see you succeed but won’t just simply give you all the answers.  A good sales coach will do some teaching and advice sharing but mostly helps you come to your own conclusions about how to build a more successful career.

I recommend you share your goals with your coach and use those as part of your conversations.  Great athletes have goals they’re trying to achieve.  Along with their coaches, those athletes constantly monitor the progress they’re making and push themselves to greater heights.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com