All posts by jeffbeals

7 Reasons Why You Should Join a Mastermind Group This Year

thinkgrowrich-napoleonhill

By Jeff Beals
 
Napoleon Hill wrote one of the most popular business books of all time back in 1937. It was called Think and Grow Rich, and in the 80 years since it was published, more than 100 million copies have been sold.

Though it was released during the Great Depression Think and Grow Rich remains shockingly relevant for professionals working in the 21st Century.  The book was the result of Hill’s 20-year study of highly successful individuals who had amassed great personal wealth.

After studying the habits of exceptional people, Hill developed 13 achievement philosophies that lead to success.  One of those philosophies was called, “The Power of Master Mind.”

That’s right…Napoleon Hill invited the mastermind group.

In 2017, sales professionals are joining mastermind groups like crazy. They have become super popular over the past five to 10 years even though Hill wrote about them eight decades ago.

What’s a mastermind group?

It’s a group of professionals, usually about eight to 15 of them, who meet on a regular basis to help each other be more successful in a confidential setting.  Leadership can be lonely, because there simply aren’t a lot of places you can seek guidance inside your organization without compromising confidential information or admitting your personal weaknesses.

“The Mastermind principle consists of an alliance of two or more minds working in perfect harmony for the attainment of a common definite objective,” Hill wrote. “Success does not come without the cooperation of others.”

I benefit from membership in a mastermind group. I’m part of a mastermind group of 52 sales speakers/consultants located around the world.  We’re ostensibly competitors, but we help each other be successful.  We view the world from an abundance mentality, which means we work together to increase the size of the pie rather than fighting for pieces of a smaller pie.  Just today, one member of our mastermind group sent a message on our private discussion forum seeking advice as to how she could better serve one of her clients.  Several mastermind members chimed in with ideas.

If you are asked to join a well-structured mastermind group consisting of high-quality people, consider yourself lucky.  You should probably jump at the opportunity.  Actively and enthusiastically participating in a mastermind group is hand-down one of the single best things you can do to up your game and improve your life.  Here are seven reasons why:

1. You’re no longer on a deserted island.  Once you join a mastermind group, you’re no longer alone.  Instead, you’re part of a confidential group of outstanding leaders.  Many masterminds allow only one person per industry.  That means you can openly share information without your direct competitors hearing about it.

2. You gain transferable knowledge.  The legendary businessman Henry Ford visited a beef packing plant in Chicago many years ago. Ford took great interest in the way workers processed the beef from whole carcasses into small cuts of ready-to-sell meat. As he observed, it occurred to Ford that if the process was reversed, all the cuts would go back together to form a whole steer carcass again. The metaphorical light bulb switched on in Ford’s head. “I can build automobiles this way,” he thought. Ford returned home to Detroit and promptly created the famous assembly line.

If your mastermind group includes people from different industries, you can learn amazing ideas and apply them to your industry allowing you to jump ahead of your competitors.

3. You constantly learn new things.  In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises us to regularly “sharpen the saw,” meaning we take time to open our minds and increase our skills.  Your profession is constantly changing; a mastermind group can help you stay on the cutting edge.

4. You develop better habits.  A good mastermind is highly supportive yet also holds you accountable. If you say you’re going to tackle a new project one month, your fellow mastermind group members will expect to hear about your experiences the next month.  This helps you avoid procrastination.

5. You benefit from a “personal board of directors.”  A mastermind group functions as your own advisory board. You can go to them and seek counsel for just about anything.  Peer-to-peer advising is incredibly powerful because it allows you to get things off your chest, figure out what to do before you do it and discuss possible outcomes before they happen.  Just think how successful you can be when you have a group of people who are invested in your success just as you are invested in theirs.

6. You might find new clients. While this isn’t necessary an expressed benefit of many mastermind groups, some of your fellow members might be ideal clients for your organization.  Mastermind members tend to become friends. They bond together.  There’s nobody better to do business with than somebody you completely trust.

7.  You become more confident.  When you have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of a potential decision with a group of talented and experienced people, you will carry out your decisions with much more confidence.

While mastermind groups are indeed powerful, don’t join one unless you are ready to give it your full commitment. It does require time and effort.  If you can’t find one that suits your needs, you might just start one yourself!

Hey, if you have a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect mastermind group for you!  It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group,” and it kicks off this fall.  I will personally lead and facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre.  I’m recruiting members for it right now.  There are four in-person meetings per year – All the other meetings are virtual, so you can join in no matter where in the world you might be.  My mastermind group members will also have their own personal discussion forum.

Sales leadership can be a lonely existence.  Joining this group will help you create a stronger sales culture, attract talented sales reps and drive more revenue while you better manage both your personal and professional life. Click here to see an info piece about this mastermind or contact me personally at (402) 510-7468.

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Is Your Buyer a Liar? Here’s How to Find Out

By Jeff Beals

 “Buyers are liars.”

That’s an age-old saying in the sales profession, and I hear salespeople use it from time to time.

I’m not a fan of the saying, because using it can emotionally pull you apart from a client, but there have been times when I too have thought “buyers are liars.”

Why do sales pros feel compelled to utter these words? Is it because grizzled veterans get cynical and jaded after years of sales trench warfare?

Perhaps that’s the case for some burned-out old timers, but it’s not the main reason.

Is it because sales reps harbor feelings of hostility toward their clients?

No, it’s not that either. Most professionals are grateful they have clients.

Sales pros like to use the term “buyers are liars,” because sometimes they’ll work hard trying to find the perfect solution for a client only to have that client later say they want something completely different. It happens a lot in some industries.

Is that the buyer’s fault?

Occasionally, but not usually.

While some people choose to mislead a salesperson for whatever reason, blame is usually placed at the foot of the sales pro.  We sometimes think “buyers are liars” because we are not really listening. More significantly, we’re not listening as intensely and studiously as we should.

The key is to listen like a detective.  Think like a detective.  Act like a detective.

Ask questions and carefully listen. You need to listen as intently and actively as a detective listens while interrogating a suspect in a homicide or some other serious crime.

I have often thought that many of the activities professionals (of any industry) do each day are analogous to the work done by detectives.

Whether you are selling, negotiating, proposing or convincing, your success depends on conveying information and getting information out of somebody else. There are times when your clients, colleagues and vendors do not want you to know the whole story. Other times, they may accidentally omit important parts of the information.

As a “detective,” you need to keep digging. Turn over the rocks. Scratch the dirt. Use your Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass. Don’t take things at face value. If you have any doubts or feel like there is even the slightest hole in the information you are receiving, you need to keep questioning – and listening – like a detective.

During interrogation, criminal suspects have a vested interest in the outcome, which is why they lie, withhold, mislead and evade. Detectives look for inconsistencies in their stories and take cues from suspects’ body language. When detectives get the sense that they might be making progress in an interrogation, they start to go deeper, asking more detailed and intricate questions.

Hopefully, your professional interactions are not as grave and adversarial as a criminal interrogation. Nevertheless, you must know that many of the people with whom you interact feel compelled to withhold information. You need to get that information out of them, because it has a direct impact on your success.

Even when the other person and you have a mutual interest, it’s not uncommon for the truth to lie beneath the surface. Keep questioning and listening intently until you are convinced you have unearthed the whole story.

ATTENTION SALES PROS:

I want to make you aware of a unique prospecting resource available to you. My colleague Beth Mastre and I are offering the “Sales Prospecting Masterclass” on Tuesday, August 29th in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, but anyone, regardless of whether they are a chamber member, is welcome to register.

This class will change the way you prospect.  It’s a “deep dive.”  We’ll spend the whole day covering what actually works in today’s challenging sales environment.  Every participant will leave with a step-by-step, personalized prospecting plan and actual language you can use to engage prospects the very next day. Click here for information or to register!

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Video: Buyers’ 8 Most Common Concerns

Click here to watch this week’s video!

As a sales professional, your job is to figure out exactly what prospective clients care about. How do you do that? It’s easy — ask your prospects questions based on the eight things that buyers typically care about.

All eight of those buyer concerns are revealed in this week’s Blue Chip Sales Tip Video!

How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Prospecting Challenges

Sales Prospecting Class Logo NARROW

By Jeff Beals

Prospecting is not just something sales professionals do to fill their pipelines. Prospecting is a mindset, and for the most successful sales pros, it’s a way of life.

If you work in sales, nobody has to tell you that prospecting today is exponentially harder than at any other time in history.  Why is that?  Here are four reasons:

  1. Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
  2. Products are services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
  3. Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales lines.
  4. Prospects have access to unprecedented information about products and services. They can find out anything they want about your company through a simple Google search. In many cases, they can find online reviews about your offerings.  They can go onto a discussion forum and solicit opinions about you and your products. The problem with all this information, however, is that it tends to be overwhelming, unfiltered and often taken out of context.  Prospects are highly informed but not necessarily accurately informed.

The combination of these four challenges has turned prospects into price-sensitive buyers who are hesitant to engage with salespeople.

So, what can we do to rise above the fracas and succeed in an highly competitive selling environment?

Prospect like “your hair’s on fire” – Because prospecting is harder than ever, you need to be more diligent.  Like I mentioned earlier, prospecting is a mindset, a way of life.  You could even call is a “lifestyle.”  Embrace it. Welcome it.  Do it every single day of the week.  While prospecting can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, push through it.  If you are positive about it, you’ve won half the battle.

It’s not about you – Always focus on what the prospects value, not what you care about.  It’s never about you. It’s not about your company. It’s not about your product’s features and benefits.  Think of yourself as a detective assigned to figure out how you can best help the mysterious person known as your prospect.

Apply discipline to your prospecting – Even though there are more enjoyable things to do as a sales professional, you have to make prospecting one of your top daily activities.  You even have to do it on days you’re closing other deals.  Top producers reserve blocks of time for prospecting and they don’t allow any distractions during those times. I know of no other use of your time that is more likely to lead to long-term sales success than being a dedicated, disciplined prospector.

Value-based language – When emailing prospects, leaving them voicemails or talking to them face-to-face, ask questions that determine what they value and then explain things in a way that shows how you deliver that value.  Good prospectors research and test language they can use when engaging potential customers.  Ultimately, you want language that captures a prospect’s attention, conveys value, makes them feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with you and then compels them to make some sort of a commitment.

Make a plan – While you need to be an exuberant and disciplined prospector, you do need a plan. If you run to the nearest phone and start dialing cold prospects haphazardly, you’re wasting your time.  Your plan should include what types of people you target, where you get leads, how you do pre-call research, the language you use to establish value and the tactics you use to push them further down your pipeline.

This comes as a surprise to a lot of people, but did you know that prospecting is the number-one deficiency among salespeople and sales departments?  It’s true. Most of the problems that salespeople complain about are ultimately caused by poor prospecting methods or a lack of prospecting discipline.

I want to make you aware of a unique prospecting resource available to you. My colleague Beth Mastre and I are offering the “Sales Prospecting Masterclass” on Tuesday, August 29th in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, but anyone, regardless of whether they are a chamber member, is welcome to register.

This class will change the way you prospect.  It’s a “deep dive.”  We’ll spend the whole day covering what actually works in today’s challenging sales environment.  Every participant will leave with a step-by-step, personalized prospecting plan and actual language you can use to engage prospects the very next day. Click here for information or to register!

Video: What’s the Single Most Important Thing to Know about Sales?

Click here to watch this week’s video!

What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to selling? It’s not about you! That’s it. Always remember, whether you’re prospecting, presenting or closing, focus on the buyer, not your features and benefits. But be careful to avoid the “biggest sin in business.”

You’ll hear all of that and more in this week’s “Blue Chip Sales Tip” video!

Could the Grass Actually Be Greener on YOUR Side of the Fence?

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan 1997

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan 1997

By Jeff Beals

It’s been more than 14 years since Michael Jordan played his last professional basketball game, yet he remains an international icon.  At age 54, he still appears regularly on television, and with an estimated net worth of $1.14 billion, he’s the richest athlete on Earth.

Jordan has had an amazing career. Many consider him to be the best basketball player of all time.  He led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association championships and was named the league’s most valuable player five times.  As one of the most effectively branded athletes of all time, he made a fortune in the endorsement business. The athletic shoes named after him have remained popular for two decades.

Millions of people know and admire Michael Jordan.  Even fans of opposing teams who were beaten over and over by Jordan’s teams back in the day have a hard time disliking him.  Jordan has worldwide fame; he’s one of those rare individuals who the public instantly recognizes.

Jordan’s accomplishments are well documented and they stand on their own merit, but he also benefits from the power of personal branding. When you are as well-known as he, it becomes easier to get things done. People seek him out and jump at the chance to do business with him.

But despite all his success, Jordan surely has problems. Everybody does. Nobody is perfect. It’s hard to think about Michael Jordan having worries, doubts and frustrations, because the power of his personal brand shines so brightly.

Personal branding is most effective when you throw a little “theater” into it. In other words, be like Jordan, and put on a bit of a show when you’re among your sphere of interest.

What do I mean when I say you put a little “theatre” into your life?  Well, when you go see a stage performance in a live theater, you don’t see behind the stage, and you don’t see the actors fall out of character. Similarly, in your life, put on a bit of a show. That’s not to say you are pretending to be someone or something you are not, but it does mean you put forth the best image possible.

Think of it this way: Most people are afflicted with the “grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence syndrome.” Take advantage of that. Exploit that common human tendency. Paint a picture of yourself that is desirable enough that everyone will want to reach their heads through the fence and eat your grass (so to speak). People don’t need to see your dirty laundry. They should see you as someone who leads the kind of life they admire and want to imitate.

Adopting a theatrical approach to your personal branding efforts in no way whatsoever should cause you to be someone you are not. Be animated, play the part and highlight your strengths but never ever lie or deliberately mislead.

But one word of caution as you harness the power of personal branding like “His Airness” Michael Jordan: Sales professionals can’t live on personal branding alone.  A personal brand makes people more likely to work with you, but you still have to prospect – research prospective clients, email them, call them on the phone and see them face-to-face.

The grass is actually quite green on your side of the fence, but as a good sales professional, you still need to pick up the phone and invite people over to your “field.”

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

PROSPECTING: Sales Pros Should Be Seemingly Everywhere

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 activities: networking, making phone calls, placing outbound emails, responding to emails, hosting guests, visiting people who refer/recommend them to clients and developing raving fans who champion their cause.

Prospecting must be perpetual. No matter how busy you may be, you need to get out of the office and show up at networking events. We need to reach out and engage the world around us. As a rule of thumb, you need to have meaningful encounters with people in your network every day—including weekends.

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.

Many 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 are not amenable to cold calls, and they won’t respond to your direct mail piece no matter how pretty it is. 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 (or get a referral from someone they trust).

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.

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Win Over Stubborn Gatekeepers

By Jeff Beals

A few years ago, I wrote a book that required me to conduct interviews with several professionals who had attained celebrity status.  In many cases, I had to work with secretaries and administrative assistants in order to get the interviews. These “gatekeepers” played a huge role in determining whether their high-profile bosses would or would not meet with me.

While people normally think of gatekeepers as problematic obstructionists, on a couple of occasions, I landed an interview only because of the gatekeepers.  I befriended the gatekeepers in both of those cases and turned them into my advocates.  They became my champions. One of those gatekeepers believed so much in what I was trying to accomplish with the book, that she pretty much forced her boss to do the interview with me. The other lobbied her boss on my behalf until he agreed.

Trying to land interviews with famous people is in many ways similar to the sales prospecting that you and I do every day.  If you sell to decision makers at large companies or the owners of small companies, you may very well come face-to-face with a gatekeeper.  Here are four things you can do to win over gatekeepers and turn them into advocates:

Respect

Treat them with respect. I’m not talking about the patronizing, artificial respect that too many companies show their admin assistants (like telling admins they are the “most important resource in the company” or giving them cheesy titles like “director of first impressions”). I’m talking about real respect, the respect that exists when you see someone as a partner or an equal.

When you reach a gatekeeper, explain what you’re trying to accomplish and why you are calling. Tell them the same things you say to their bosses. See the gatekeeper as a key part of your selling process. That simple show of respect will put you in the most likeable one percent of vendors who call the gatekeeper.  Compared to the vast majority of sales reps who treat gatekeepers as unworthy, lower-class obstacles, you’ll come across as positively different.

Partner Role

Remember to think of gatekeepers as partners in the process – partners to you and their bosses. Many decision makers are so close to their support person that they almost become one person. They can finish each other’s sentences. If the boss sees the gatekeeper as a partner, you should too.

Questions

One of the best things you can do to turn gatekeepers into champions is to ask questions. People like it when other people show genuine, sincere interest in them and their organizations. Asking questions gets the gatekeeper involved in your efforts and the answers they provide help you understand more about the decision maker to whom you will ultimately make your pitch.  What’s another benefit of asking questions? The gatekeeper may realize that they don’t have the answers you need and may just let you talk to the big shot.

Persistence

These days it often takes multiple calls to reach prospecting targets. It might also take several conversations to build a high level of trust with a gatekeeper. Even if the gatekeeper likes you, it still may require several callbacks to the keep the process moving. Remember that gatekeepers and their bosses are extremely busy and often downright overwhelmed. That makes you forgettable if you don’t stay front and center.

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Sales Detective Work: Who’s the Real Decision Maker?

By Jeff Beals

Sales professionals searching for insight into prospective clients would be wise to think of themselves as detectives.  The more research you do on a client the faster you speed up the sales cycle and the more likely you are to increase transaction size.

As you do your detective work, it eventually becomes clear who the real decision maker is and who the primary and secondary influencers are.

More than anything, it is important to determine the true decision maker, the person who has veto power and whose signature seals the deal. But almost important is determining who the key influencers are.

No matter how independent and self-confident a decision-maker may be, that person usually has valued and trusted advisers whispering in his or her ear.  We need to know who those influencers are and get to them as early in the process as possible.

Some sales detectives prefer the direct approach and ask questions such as:

“Who is the most influential person helping you make this decision?”

“Whose advice and counsel will be most valuable to you as you make your decision?”

Other sales pros are more subtle, but once you identify the key influencers, you need to build a trusting relationship with them too.

Sometimes a prospect will be vague and non-committal when asked to name influencers. A mid-level person might not want to give up control or admit that he or she lacks decision-making power. Such a person could also be protecting c-suite executives from interruptions.

Some prospects worry that disclosing influencer names will cause the sales process to grow deeper before they are ready.  When you’re having trouble drawing information out of a prospect, be patiently persistent.  Keep asking, digging and researching.  You can also look at precedent…What kind of influencers did similar prospects in the past have?

A word of warning: be careful of false influencers.  There are those people who get some sort of psychological payoff pretending to have influence over the buying process.  Do your homework. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have performed thorough due diligence on the prospective client.  A little extra work will increase your closing ratio!

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

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Replying to RFPs Is a Waste of Time (Most of the Time)

By Jeff Beals

When I was in high school (circa 1986), I auditioned for a couple of Hollywood movies.  One of the movies was being filmed here in my hometown while the other one held auditions here in addition to several other cities. I tried out just for fun, and knowing the long odds, I never expected to be chosen.  Though I wasn’t offered a part in either film, the experiences were eye opening for a 17-year-old kid.

The first audition was a positive experience. It was a comedy film written for a teenage audience. I tried out for the lead role, which was fittingly enough, a nerdy high school kid who was forced to fight an intimidating bully who had just transferred in from another school. I had an appointed time to show up and spent about 30 minutes with the casting director and his entourage. I read several scenes and then answered interview questions. I felt like I was actually being considered for the part.

The second audition was a “cattle call,” in which several hundred would-be movie stars showed up at a local hotel ballroom. After waiting a couple hours, I was brought into a separate room with a group of six other guys. They lined us up, looked at each of us in comparison to one another and then told half of us to go home. I was one of the guys told to leave.  That was it.  I waited for hours only to be sent packing having never said a word.

Do you want to know why I received so much more attention in the first audition than the second?  I was actually recommended for the first movie by a local talent agency that had been hired by the movie producers.  At the second audition, I was just one of 250 nameless, faceless unknowns.

Why do I tell you this story?

Because it reminds me of the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process in the world of sales.  As a general rule, I hate RFPs and I only respond to them under rare circumstances.

I hate RFPs, because they are just like that cattle-call movie audition. Think about it this way:

  • A company decides it needs a new vendor, so several employees sit down and think of all the things they do and don’t want and then dream up a bunch of hoops for would-be vendors to jump through.
  • They send the RFP to every potential vendor they can think of.
  • Prospective vendors practically do backflips trying to meet all the RFP requirements and end up rushing to meet the deadline.
  • The company that issued the RFP then examines all the proposals that were submitted and compares them.  Ultimately, they decide that some of the proposals are basically offering the same products/services, so they choose the lowest-priced bid.
  • And it can get even worse.  The finalists are sometimes pitted against each other in a bidding war to see who is willing to discount their price to the lowest number. It’s a race to the bottom.
  • The “winner” ends up doing a lot of work for too little money.

This is not a recipe for high profitability.

Generally speaking, I recommend you respond to RFPs only when your relationship with the client is so strong that you are essentially guaranteed of winning.  Some companies have policies requiring that vendor relationships go out to bid periodically. If this is the case at one of your best client companies, tell them you will help write the RFP.  You can then write the RFP to favor you and the way you do business.

If you don’t write the RFP or at least have heavy influence on the RFP, it very well could be an expensive waste of your time replying to the RFP.  An exception would be when the RFP is a mere formality designed to make shareholders feel better and you are the pre-chosen winner.

Now, I realize that there are some industries where RFPs are a rooted part of the culture. In other words, they’re so common that there’s no getting around them.  That’s not the case in most industries.  When at all possible, avoid RFPs.  Just like the cattle-call audition, you have little chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you spend tons of time and money preparing a proposal and get no revenue in return. If by some miracle, you are chosen, you’re probably going to get skewered on price.

Just say “no” to RFPs!

By the way, that movie for which I was actually considered turned out to be a box-office flop, earning only $1.5 million during its opening weekend. But it did play on cable television for many years.  To this day, I’ve never watched the entire show but have seen bits and pieces of it.  I’ll never forget the first time I stumbled upon it. I was flipping through television channels and landed on something that looked mildly interesting.  As I started watching the show, it felt so familiar. Then I realized that I was watching the very scene I read during that audition.  It was fun to think what could have been…