How to Be an Omnipresent Prospector

By Jeff Beals

The most successful sales professionals tend to work long and hard.  A significant chunk of those hours is typically dedicated to prospecting: networking, making phone calls, responding to emails, hosting guests, visiting people who refer/recommend them to clients and developing raving fans who champion their cause.

No matter how busy you may be, you need to get out of the office and show up at networking events especially if you work in outside sales. We need to reach out and engage the world around us. As a rule of thumb, you need to have meaningful encounters with prospects in your network every day.

I admit that’s a demanding standard.

The good news is that these encounters don’t necessarily have to be at formal functions held in formal venues. Your sphere of interest is ubiquitous. Strike up conversations with people around you. Reach out to people and get to know those who might refer a desirable prospect to you some day.

The majority of prestigious, big-time clients can only be reached through relationships. They do not commonly walk into your office asking to be your customer. They are not amenable to cold calls that are made without the benefit of a trusted referral, and they rarely respond to cold emails no matter how artfully you write them. You have to go out and meet them face-to-face in the places where they live, work and play.

“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.  That requires sales professionals to go out into the world and actively communicate. Getting access to the highly desirable clients requires you to be among your sphere of interest on a regular basis.

Get out there and meet everyone you can. Ask questions. Be like a detective turning over every stone, looking for any shred of evidence that can help you make the sale. Great salespersons are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere.

How do you know if you are doing enough networking, also known as “face-to-face prospecting?”

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

(402) 637-9300

Face-to-Face Selling Is Still Powerful in a Virtual World

By Jeff Beals

National associations are famous for holding big conventions each year.  Some conventions are so big they attract tens of thousands of attendees.

As you might imagine, it takes a great deal of work to pull off one of these major events.  Programs need to be planned, speakers booked, volunteers recruited, attendees encouraged to attend and logistics squared away.

One of the biggest decisions is where to have the event. When a meeting planner is looking for a venue for a convention or an industry meeting, they consider a number of factors:

  • Quality of the meeting facilities
  • Nearby attractions
  • Proximity of entertainment and restaurants
  • Ease of transportation

And then there’s the hotel.  Planners prefer a hotel that is either big enough to host the event itself or is right next door to a major convention center.  The hotel must be nice-looking, offer a range of amenities and have an adequate number of rooms.

But there is one thing that is an absolute MUST in order for a convention hotel to make the cut:  it has to have a large, full-service bar.

Yep, that’s right.  A great bar and lounge area in the convention hotel is generally considered a non-negotiable requirement.  Why?  It’s not because convention attendees want to drink more on the road than they do at home (although they typically do).  It’s because of something much more important – an age-old, primitive business practice known as networking.

Isn’t that interesting?  Organizations spend large amounts of time and money making everything just right for a convention, yet one of the most important parts of the experience comes when attendees retire to the bar after the last general session and simply network – build ties and bonds with their colleagues from other cities, states or countries.

They share ideas, refer business and counsel one another.  Despite the many sophisticated and highly valuable things modern business meetings offer, much of the value that comes from the event occurs in the evening in the crowded hotel lobby bar.

We professionals think we are so sophisticated, yet we’re still hopelessly tied to our ancient social instincts.  You know what?  That’s okay.  People make business interesting.  People make business meaningful.  People make business worthwhile.

No matter how sophisticated we become, nothing is as effective as in-person learning and one-on-one networking.  Those companies and professionals that remember this tend to do better and sell more products and services.

We have access to live webinars, digital recordings, interactive online learning programs.  Nevertheless, people still love to experience events in person.  They still benefit from taking continuing education courses in a room full of people from a qualified person standing there in the flesh.

Think about it…We have so many ways to deliver our sales messages to clients via mass media, social media and sophisticated email campaigns.  Nevertheless, sales practitioners still have to call prospects on the phone one at a time or show up at their offices to make a pitch.

It’s easy to say “no” to an advertisement, a tweet or a mass email.  It’s harder to say “no” when someone sits down with you, listens to your needs and wants and personally explains why their product or service will benefit you and your unique situation.

Don’t be misled and lulled to sleep by all the wondrous selling/marketing tools at your disposal.  While those technologies certainly help, you still have to reach out and shake hands if you want to make it big.

The next time you go to a convention, test this out.  Enjoy the speakers, take notes at the break-out sessions, attend the awards banquet, but at about 9:30 p.m., stroll through the hotel lobby bar.  Notice how many people from your convention are there.  Join the conversation and build long-term collegial relationships that can enhance your success for years and years to come.

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

(402) 637-9300

Don’t Network for the Sake of Networking

By Jeff Beals

Sounds of laughter and clinking dishes filled the room at the well-attended networking event inside the hotel conference center.

Like the other professionals in attendance, I tried my best to move about the room, meeting people and engaging in discussion – mostly small talk.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jon and couldn’t help chuckling a bit to myself as he approached.

Jon’s a great guy, someone I have enjoyed getting to know. But I always shake my head when I think about him, because Jon is the poster-boy for inefficient and ultimately non-effective networking.

You see, Jon is the business development guy for a consulting firm. His job is to schmooze, to go out into the world, build relationships and ultimately sign up clients for his firm’s services. Jon works hard at the “relationship” part of his job but doesn’t appear to be terribly effective at the “signing-up-clients” part.

Jon is seemingly everywhere. He’s a voracious networker. He’s diligent, because you can’t go to a networking event without seeing him. He is intelligent and talented. He is engaging. Shoot, he’s even a good-looking. He knows how to play the social networking game.

Despite all his attributes, Jon has one glaring deficiency. In the 10 years I have known him, he has never once asked for my business.

It’s not just me. I was talking to a friend, and somehow Jon’s name came up in discussion. I mentioned that I’ve always been amazed at how much attention I receive from Jon without ever being asked for my business. My friend had noticed the same thing.

Jon is a guy who networks for the sake of networking. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he doesn’t finish the job, call the question, ask for the order.

Remember that your ultimate goal in networking is to establish rapport, learn information and ultimately use it to accomplish your business goals. Sure, most of your time is engaged in chit-chat and pleasantries, but at some point it’s time to cash in.

Jon’s affliction is actually a common one.

It’s fun to do the relationship-building part, but it’s hard for many people to follow through with the asking part. Asking can be intimidating, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful people must network, but networking is simply a means to an end. Your success as a networker is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.

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

(402) 637-9300

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Sales Reps Make When Leaving Voicemails

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say it’s Tuesday morning at 7:30, the start of your weekly phone prospecting time.  You did your pre-call research the previous day and have your list of prospects ready to go.  You sit down at your desk, dial the first prospect’s number and…

You get their voicemail, of course.

The vast majority of prospecting calls go to voicemail.  Some sales pros gripe and grumble when they are automatically routed to a prospect’s voicemail.  They complain, that “nobody ever answers the damned phone!”

It is true that prospects are getting harder to reach.  It is also true that decision makers are more likely to let calls from unrecognized phone numbers go to voicemail.

But don’t consider voicemails to be a bad thing; see them as opportunities, little advertisements that can be customized exactly to each prospect’s unique situation.  Because you are most likely going to get voicemail whenever you call, it makes sense that you put a lot of thought and effort into each voicemail.  I know sales reps whose voicemails are so good and so effective, they would RATHER get a prospect’s voicemail than reach him or her on the first attempt.

In order to make your voicemail efforts more fruitful, here are some common voicemail mistakes that every sales rep should studiously avoid:

1. Talking too much

Sales voicemails should be less than 20 seconds.

2. Giving up too soon

It typically takes eight or more voicemails to get a prospect to call you back.  Most people quit after two or three messages, because they’re worried about being pesky or sounding desperate.  I’ll admit it feels weird to carpet bomb a prospect with eight or more voicemails, but if each voicemail highlights something of value, they are really effective.  If you are persistent there’s a good chance they’ll call you back.

3. Touching base

Never say, “I’m calling to touch base,” or “I’m just checking in with you.”  Those are annoying voicemails to receive, because they provide nothing of value to the recipient.

4. Talk about yourself

Never leave a litany of features and benefits on a voicemail.  Never talk about how great you are, how many awards your company has won or the combined years of experience your staff has.  Your prospects only care about how your product or service makes their lives better.

5. “I’m going to be in your area next week and would love to stop by and take just 20 minutes of your time.”

Just because you are coincidentally going to be in a prospect’s city, doesn’t mean that a prospect wants to drop everything she has going on and spend time with you.  Your travel schedule is irrelevant to a prospect if you have failed to catch his imagination in the first place.

6. Trying to say too much

If you only have 20 seconds to leave a voicemail, you only have time for one idea.  If you have more than one burning thing you want to say, save the second thing for the next voicemail.

7. Forget to leave your call-back number

One of the easiest excuses a prospect has to NOT return a voicemail message is if the call-back number is not readily available.  Only 7 percent of sales voicemails are ever returned, which means it’s hard enough to get call backs.  Don’t do anything that lowers the likelihood.

8. Being misleading

Some sales reps like to deceive prospects in their voicemails either by implying that they are returning the recipient’s call (even though the recipient never called them in the first place) or by name-dropping a person they don’t really know. You don’t want to do anything that comes back to embarrass yourself if you do end up getting a meeting.

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

Put Big Mama’s Picture on the Business Card

By Jeff Beals

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally published this article six years ago in March of 2012.  The star of the article, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, passed away yesterday at age 76.  She was a bigger-than-life personality who made a positive difference in my hometown.  I enjoyed interviewing her and periodically chatting with her in the years since.  She was an amazing woman.  I hope you find the second release of this article interesting and enlightening…

When Patricia Barron first became a grandmother, she wasn’t ready to be called “grandma” or “granny.”  Such labels were way too old fashioned for her.  After all, she still felt young and had a lot of dreams left to pursue.

In some African-American families, the name “Big Mama” is affectionately used to describe a grandmother, but more than that, it’s a title of honor given to the family matriarch.  Such was the case in Barron’s family.  Once she became “Big Mama,” the name stuck, and there was no going back.

When you meet her today, it’s as if she has always been Big Mama. Everyone calls her that whether they’re related to her or not.  With her charming personality, welcoming nature and motherly persona, you immediately feel comfortable using such a friendly, informal title.

After a 30-year career working for the telephone company, Big Mama retired from Ma Bell and was ready to start the next chapter of her life.  It was time to pursue a lifelong dream: to be a restaurateur and owner of her own restaurant.

She developed a love of cooking as a little girl observing her grandmother prepare Sunday dinners.  In her early twenties, she studied culinary arts.  As her family grew, Big Mama loved preparing large meals for relatives and friends.  It wasn’t uncommon for 30 or 40 people to come over for dinner.  As she says, “I love to feed people.”

It only made sense that Big Mama would consider opening a restaurant upon her retirement. But she didn’t want to open just any restaurant.  She wanted to bring her grandmother’s old recipes to life – oven-fried chicken, collard greens, stir-fried cabbage and sweet potato pie.

What’s more, she wanted to open her business in economically challenged north Omaha, an urban, predominantly African-American quadrant of Omaha, Nebraska.  Big Mama hoped her restaurant would help breathe new life into the neighborhood and provide needed jobs for workers who could use a second chance.

While it was an exciting concept and a noble idea, it was not an easy sell to reluctant lenders, who had no confidence in funding a restaurant business in north Omaha.  Perhaps more surprising, lenders were hesitant, because Big Mama was 65 years old.  How long would she run the business?  Could they count on her staying healthy?

“I had experienced discrimination in my life, because I was black and because I was a woman,” Big Mama told me, “but I had never been discriminated against because I was old!”

Undeterred, she gathered her resources, relied on her faith and leaned on her network of friends/family to open Big Mama’s Kitchen on a youth services campus that was once a state school for deaf children.  It was hard work, but she did it.

Five years later, her restaurant is doing well.  She is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.  Her famous sweet potato ice cream is now stocked on local grocery store shelves. At age 70, Big Mama is loving life as an entrepreneur and plans to keep feeding people until she’s 100.  She now makes a living doing what she loves, and at the same time, she’s doing her part to help rebuild a community that has experienced so much disappointment.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking this story feels good, but it’s actually about to get even better.

You see, Big Mama’s story is not just motivational, it’s highly instructive.  Big Mama offers many lessons for those who wish to succeed in business.

Regular readers of this column know that I believe in the power of personal branding and what it can do to build businesses and strengthen organizations.  When people who work inside an organization become “famous,” the whole organization benefits.

Big Mama’s Kitchen has great food and great service, but much of its success is due to the owner’s personality and the personal brand she has built.

Awhile back, she sought the counsel of a marketing firm.  It turned out to be money well spent, as the consultant gave her a great piece of advice: “Big Mama, put your picture on the restaurant’s logo. Put your picture on your business card.”

At first, the modest Big Mama wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but she eventually agreed to give it a try.

The new logo is brilliant.  For one thing, Big Mama believes it’s good for African-American customers to see her face.   They can see that an African-American woman is running a soul food restaurant.  But a very large percentage of her customers are white, and most of them drive many miles to dine in her restaurant.  Her image resonates with those white customers too.  She is the personification of a “Big Mama.”  She is the face of her business.

Big Mama’s personal branding efforts are paying off as she has become a celebrity.  She is the local queen of soul food. Her restaurant has been featured on The Food Channel, The Travel Channel and the Sundance Channel.  People have been known to board an airplane, fly into town, eat at Big Mama’s and fly home the same day.  Her spicy “Afro Burger” was front-and-center on the popular television show Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

People who visit the restaurant come for the food, but you can see it on their faces when they walk in – they look around the room hoping to catch a glimpse of Big Mama, the woman who embodies the restaurant.

Granted, if the food and service weren’t great, the restaurant wouldn’t still be here.  But quality alone is often not enough.  There’s so much competition in this world.  There are so many ways a business can fail.  By building a personal brand and attaching it to your company, you benefit.  Everyone benefits.  People are the portals of profit.  We are much more comfortable doing business with someone than something.

Like Big Mama, your widely recognized and highly respected personal brand can set you apart from your competitors.

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