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How to Onboard New Sales Reps

By Jeff Beals

Newly hired employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they have an effective onboarding program.

Let’s define onboarding as a set of activities that a company undertakes before a new employee starts, during the orientation period and throughout the first 12 months.

Because the chronic talent shortage, onboarding is becoming increasingly important. One could argue that properly onboarding new sales employees is even more essential than employees from other parts of the company.  A true sales rep, who is capable of finding and closing new clients, is difficult to find.  Do everything you can to keep good people on your team.

Onboarding activities break down into five categories:

1. Preparation before the first day

2. Orientation

3. Technical and product training

4. Sales training

5. Mentoring and coaching

Preparation before the first day includes the simple stuff such as paperwork, setting up of the workspace and providing access to technology.  Marketing items such as business cards, bio for the company website and press release should be taken care of before the newcomer arrives.  Having all of that completed ahead of time impresses new employees, making them feel valued. Announce the new employee to the rest of the team as early as is appropriate.

Many managers fail to communicate with incoming employees between the time they accept the job and their first day. Considering that sometimes several weeks elapse during this time period, you don’t want to go “dark” on your new sales rep.  This is actually a semi-vulnerable time.  Occasionally, new employees receive other employment offers during this transition period.  If you’re not communicating regularly, you run the risk of having them stolen right out from underneath you.

Orientation typically takes place during the first few days and includes tours, introductions, overview of human resources issues, basic office functions, etc.  Depending on how many sales reps are in your office, arrange for the new person to meet some or all of the existing reps one on one.

Orientation is also a good time to start talking about sales goals and recommended milestones the new sales rep should strive to accomplish in 30 days, 90 days, six months and one year.

During orientation, I like to address “buyer’s remorse.” Let me explain…

Whenever I started a new job, I typically went through a short period of time during the first week where I’m overwhelmed and feel like a fish out of water. A new job is a form of change and change makes us feel uncomfortable.  At the beginning, it’s easy to think, “Oh no…I made a mistake by coming here.”  I like to remind new employees that it’s natural to go through a wide range of emotions as you orient yourself to a new company.

Technical and product training is probably the easiest part of the onboarding process for the manager.  Your company is full of people who are experts when it comes to the stuff you sell.

Sales training is extremely important, but many companies mistakenly gloss over this part of the onboarding process.  The more detailed your sales training program is, the more successful your people will be.  I have always believed that it is easier to teach product knowledge than it is selling skills.

Make sure your sales training focuses more on prospecting than any other part of the selling process, because prospecting is what separates good sales reps from great ones.

Of course, sales training should be an on-going activity even for your existing reps who have years of experience.

Finally, mentoring and coaching are designed to extend the onboarding process beyond the initial training period. Think of “mentoring” as a relationship with a more experiences sales rep. “Coaching is an on-going interaction between the rep and the manager.  Nothing is more important to a sales rep’s success than quality one-on-one time with the sales manager.

Choose a mentor who embraces the idea of being a mentor.  You don’t want someone who will only put in a half-hearted effort.  Tell the mentor how they will benefit from the situation so they realize that mentorship is more than an altruistic endeavor. Arrange the mentor relationship before the new sales rep’s first day, so everything is ready to go on time.

Onboarding is more than just a three-day training program during the sales rep’s first week.  It’s an ongoing, coordinated activity over a full year that transitions the person from an outsider who knows nothing into a high-functioning, committed team player who is making a difference.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

 

Clean Living Requires More Than Just Physical Health

By Jeff Beals

Health-conscious people will sometimes say, “I’m trying to live a clean life” or “I eat clean.”

Depending on the person, “eating cleanly” could mean avoiding processed foods, eliminating simple carbohydrates or choosing only a plant-based diet.  For others, clean eating might mean that you choose a strictly organic diet.

Whatever the reason, people typically choose clean eating in order to be healthy.  They want to look and feel better while hopefully extending their lifespans.  You don’t have to be an obsessive gym rat, but being in shape and consuming the right nutrition gives you more energy and stamina.

Nearly 300 years ago, a British physician by the name of Thomas Fuller said, “Health is not valued till sickness comes.”

Making a commitment to healthy living is indeed a prerequisite for success. But it’s not only physical health that matters.

Those who enjoy long-term success realize that their personal lives must be in order. That means you should care for your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, career and financial health.

It is very difficult to be successful at work when your personal life is a mess. If your important relationships are dysfunctional, it’s hard to focus on high-level career achievement. If you lack a set of core beliefs, you may not be able to create a philosophy of life that guides you to some great achievement. If you are barely keeping your financial head above water, you don’t have the financial ability to take on entrepreneurial endeavors. Whatever the problem, you will be more successful in all facets of life if you take care of things at home.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done.  It’s much easier for me to write about healthy living than it is to actually live a healthy life, and even though I’m writing about this, rest assured, I am far from perfect. Nevertheless, here are a few things that will help your cause:

Mindset – a good attitude does wonders for your success. Think positive thoughts and constantly reinforce yourself in your own mind. As Norman Vincent Peale taught us in his famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking, you can cause successful outcomes by forcing yourself to be optimistic.

After you adopt a positive attitude, there are several other things you can do that will make you a healthier person.

A person’s faith is a personal matter, but believing in and answering to a higher power has an amazing effect on career success. Prayer, meditation or whatever you choose to call it, purges the toxins from your mind and gives you strength and confidence.

After faith comes family. No matter how ambitious you are, your family should be one of your highest priorities. Do whatever it takes to protect your familial relationships. If things ever get really tough, you want to be able to depend on those who have always known you. Stick up for your family members and look out for their interests. In the long run you will be far richer if family comes before career.

Close friends are almost as important as family. A long-time friend who truly understands you is worth his or her weight in gold. Put the important people in your life on a pedestal and make them your priority. If you go out of your way to put people first, you will have more business opportunities than you can handle.

Because family and friends are so important, it’s beneficial to adopt an attitude of acceptance. Let them be who they are and enjoy them in spite of all their flaws and weaknesses. Forgive them any time they wrong you. Bite your tongue, when you feel like saying something hurtful to a friend or family member. These relationships are so important, that it’s foolish to put them at risk over some temporary passion.

Keep your home life organized. Make sure your house is generally clean and tidy. Have a good system for organizing your bills and other important papers. Develop systems and routines for the simple, daily things. If you run a tight ship at home, you will have time for important things. After all, it’s awfully hard to conquer the world if you’re constantly misplacing your car keys.

Hobbies and recreation are also parts of a healthy life. Having enjoyable stimulation outside work recharges your battery and contributes to creative thinking. Just don’t go too hog wild with your hobbies. Some people get so deeply involved in hobbies that they hurt their job performance and drain their bank accounts.

Speaking of bank accounts, personal financial discipline is part of a healthy lifestyle. Just as you need to get your body in shape, you need to shape up your financial condition as well. A long time ago, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.”

There has always been a portion of the population that has chosen to live on the edge of the financial abyss, recklessly spending all they have, investing little or nothing. Unfortunately, that portion of the population has been growing rapidly, and it’s becoming quite a problem.

Living a financially reckless life will eventually catch up with you and hurt your career. If you have no savings, you have no “go-to-hell-money,” the power to walk away from a job or a client when you’re not happy. A lot of financial debt can prevent you from taking some lower paying job that might actually make you happier. For every minute you spend worrying and fretting about how you will make ends meet, you are taking away time from your grander goals.

It sounds so elementary, but it’s worth a reminder. Live a balanced and healthful life in order to reach the top.

That said, let’s end with one disclaimer: don’t be obsessive-compulsive in your quest for a healthy lifestyle, because as comedian Redd Foxx said, “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

How to Turn Influencers into Your Champions

By Jeff Beals

Does your company have raving fans?

The term “raving fans” has become business lexicon ever since Random House released a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles 15 years ago. The book was intended to help companies improve their customer service. The authors’ central message was that you need to go above and beyond, because “satisfied customers just aren’t good enough.”

That book is part of a breadth of publications designed to help companies and individual professionals do a better job of pleasing customers. In fact, we often hear executives spurring their employees to focus on providing “customer delight” as opposed to the mere standard of “customer service.”

This all makes sense to me. Certainly, companies benefit when they go all-out to please the customer, but having people who love you and are willing to tell everyone about it, goes beyond just customer service. You can also create raving fans of yourself, people who “cheer” for you as an individual professional.

Instead of “fans,” let’s think of them as “champions.”

Champions are people who champion you and your cause. They love you and your company. They are your fans, the people who would run through a brick wall for you. They could be personal friends, distant admirers, current or former clients, current or former referrers. They could also be influencers of past clients who you converted in champions.

Even if you have a lot of champions, you could still use more. Those individuals and organizations that have engaged champions and sent them out into the world get more opportunities. A large group of champions on your side is like having a personal marketing and sales staff without having to pay the salaries and benefits.

But champions don’t just appear out of thin air. They are developed. They must be created and then maintained. That means you should have a part of your marketing plan focused on how to deliberately develop and maintain champions. Part of that plan would be an on-going communication plan for champions that would include emailings, phone calls personal visits.

To convert someone into a champion, you need to make him or her feel very special. Here are some ideas:

  • When you are in front of a person, make him or her feel that nobody else in the world matters more.
  • Spend time with key people socially, congratulate them on their successes, and help them celebrate their victories.
  • Don’t let a moment of truth – an opportunity to strengthen a relationship – be wasted. Jump on that opportunity and grow that relationship.

It also helps when you surprise champions with valuable information when they’re not expecting it. Send them referrals whenever you get the chance. Go out of your way to introduce or connect them to interesting people. Treat them with respect and demonstrate integrity consistently.

If you do these things, you will develop a network of champions who will protect you and your organization.

As the old saying goes, “you can never have too many friends.” The same thing applies to champions.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

What to Do When a Gatekeeper Blocks Your Path

By Jeff Beals

During question-and-answer periods, the same issue keeps coming up in my sales workshops: how to deal with gatekeepers. These people are the receptionists and administrative assistants who stand between you and the decision maker you seek.

I’ve probably been asked five times about gatekeepers in just the past three weeks alone.  Why does this issue keep coming up?  It’s probably because cold prospecting is getting harder.  Decision makers keep getting better at insulating themselves from the outside world.  One of their most effective defenses is a diligent gatekeeper.

When it comes to gatekeepers, the biggest mistake you can make is to think of them obstacles or barriers.  Instead, you want to build a relationship and turn them into your advocates.  Yes, it is possible to win over a gatekeeper.

In fact, there have been times in my selling career, that I have landed an appointment only because I had built a relationship with a gatekeeper.  I’ve actually had gatekeepers tell their bosses, “You need to talk to this guy.”

If you sell to business leaders, 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 helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

Using Test Closes to Push a Sale Closer to Completion

By Jeff Beals

Remember that closing a sale involves a series of small commitments before you get the big commitment to buy.

These little commitments are sometimes referred to as “miniature closes.”

By simply agreeing to meet you, a prospect makes a mini commitment, and that’s a mini close for you.  Similarly, you complete mini closes when prospects agree to review your proposal, introduce you to a second decision maker at their company or admit that they need to change their current situation.

Similar to mini closes are “test closes,” techniques you use to gauge how interested prospects are and how seriously they are considering doing business with you.  If someone answers a test close in a way that’s desirable to you, they are essentially making a commitment to you.  So not only do test closes indicate whether you’re on the right track or making progress, they also help move the prospect closer to the final buying decision.

How do you do a test close?  Often, they begin with simple words such as:

  • “If you…”
  • “What would happen if…”
  • “Before we move on…”
  • “If I understand you correctly…”
  • “In your opinion…”

Here are some examples of how each of the above language options can be used in actual selling situations:

If you implemented this system, would it be easier to hold your team accountable?”

What would happen if you didn’t make this change?”

Before we move on, if we were to work together, what parts of the program most appeal to you?”

If I understand you correctly, the most beneficial result of using this product would be speeding up your product launches, right?”

In your opinion, would it be worth an extra investment to get 50 percent more performance?”

Instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process (the next small commitment.)  Each time you get one of these commitments, you’re a little closer to the end prize.  A test close can make the process flow easily.

Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order, with adequate time at each step.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

How to Use Referrals to Get Bigger and Better Clients

By Jeff Beals

What’s the most efficient form of prospecting?

Referrals.

In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your admission ticket. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.

Reaching busy decision makers is not the only reason you should ask past/current clients for referrals.  By asking for business leads, you could find out about prospects who otherwise would remain hidden from your view.  There are essentially thousands of prospective clients out there who you do not yet know and who have not heard of you.  A referral is your ice breaker, a chance to know someone who could someday become one of your best clients.

A referral can get prospects thinking about making a change even when the thought of changing hadn’t previously entered their minds.

For example, let’s say there’s a client who is marginally happy with their current vendor.  They’re happy enough that they don’t feel compelled to look around but they’re not so satisfied that they wouldn’t consider an unexpected solicitation from someone who referred you.  A referral could be just enough of a catalyst to make them consider a new provider. Referrals are catalysts.

No Hesitation

Despite the power of referrals, some sales professionals are hesitant to ask their current/past clients.  Perhaps they are worried the request will be an unwanted interruption in the client’s busy day.  Perhaps they’re worried they didn’t do a good enough job for the client.  Perhaps they fear “going to the well one too many times” — they already took time from the client when doing the deal, so they feel guilty taking more of the client’s time now.

If you have done a good job of serving the client while at the same time building trust, have no fear or hesitation asking for a referral.  In fact, you could make the argument that the referral actually strengthens your relationship with them.  It’s kind of flattering when a vendor wants me to make referrals on their behalf.  It shows me that I was an important and prestigious client.

Asking for a referral puts you and the client on the “same team” and creates more of a friendship between the two of you.  Furthermore, saying nice things about you to others reinforces and reminds your client why you’re so awesome.

Some clients might actually be a bit offended if you don’t ask for a referral. I once had a client with whom I worked a long time and built a nice friendship. After a couple years, I finally asked for a referral and testimonial.  Her response?  “I was wondering why you never asked me for that!”

Here’s a list of who you should ask for referrals:

  • A person whose name, title and profile make you look impressive
  • Someone who will say positive things about you
  • Someone who is very pleased with your product or service
  • Someone with whom you have mutual trust
  • Someone who has a large number of valuable contacts

When Should You Ask?

There’s no set time in the sales process when you are supposed to ask for a referral. That said, it’s probably best right after you have done a great job and your client is basking in your good work. Some sales pros are hesitant to ask a client from long ago.  Don’t fret if time has gone by.

Simply call and say something reminded you of them and how much you enjoyed working with them.  Then ask for a referral.

Referral Process

If prospects agree to give you referral, the best option is to have the referrer connect you directly They could make a coffee or lunch appointment for the three of you or perhaps send an email introducing you (“There’s someone you need to meet!”). If this isn’t an option, perhaps the referral giver could arrange a three-way phone call.

The second-best option is for the referral giver to send an email or make a phone call letting the targeted person know you’ll be calling and why they should talk to you.

If the referral giver isn’t willing to do either of the first two options, you will have to initiate the contact with the targeted person mentioning the referral giver’s name.  Before making this call, make sure you have referral giver’s blessing to go ahead and make the call.

Before you talk to referred targets, learn all you can by asking the referral giver about them and by researching them online.

Follow Up

Keep the referral giver informed throughout the sales process. It’s simply a matter of courtesy and is especially important if the referral giver is due a commission or referral fee.

Years ago, I once gave a referral to an affiliated office in a different city. The sales rep who received the referral was excited and thanked me profusely. I thought, “Well, I chose a great guy to do this deal!”

But that turned out to be the last time I heard from him.

Six months later, I ran into the client I had referred, and he told me he ended up doing a deal in that city. I asked how the rep at my partner office did. My client’s response was troubling: “I actually never heard from him, so I used someone else.”

I was incensed. I called the sales rep and asked what had happened. He stammered a bit and basically told me he let the client “slip through the cracks.”

He should have given the client extra attention simply because it was a client referred by someone within his industry. He should have sent me a short email each month during the deal keeping me up to date or at least notifying me each time the deal passed a milestone. I entrusted him with one of my precious clients, and he let me down.

Always be grateful for any referrals you receive. When clients allow you to use their names to seek business from their cherished contacts, they are putting their reputations on the line just to help you.  That means you have an obligation to treat those referrals with the utmost care and respect.  Caring for referrals is a sacred trust in the sales world, so take your job seriously.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

What to Do When Your Prospective Client Goes Dark

By Jeff Beals

It happens to all of us – a prospective client, one you’re sure is going to end up purchasing from you, suddenly goes inexplicably dark.

Prospects have been going dark since the sales profession’s very beginning.  It’s a common problem, but it appears to be growing worse.

And it happens even when the prospect initiates the first contact.

A prospect will seek you out, ostensibly excited about your product or service.  They want to meet with you immediately because “time is of the essence” or they want “to nail this down right away.”  Your meeting goes well. You hit it off with the prospect and start to build a relationship.  The prospect is giving you a ton of buying cues, and you agree to draw up a detailed proposal.  You promptly write the proposal and email it with a smile on your face and anticipation in your heart.

And then the crickets start chirping.

The client has gone dark, and despite your multiple emails and voicemails you can’t get them to acknowledge your existence.

Some people call it “ghosting.” I love that term, because dark prospects seemingly disappear into the ether.  Whatever you call it, it’s frustrating for the sales professional.

Why do prospects go dark?  There are several possibilities and most of them have little to do with you:

  • They are super busy and overwhelmed
  • They don’t have the same level of urgency as you do
  • They are procrastinators
  • They are not proactive communicators
  • They are indecisive
  • They have to get buy-in from other people/departments in their company
  • They have various internal processes that must play out
  • Their financial conditions may have changed suddenly
  • They might be navigating internal politics
  • They may have been using you for leverage with another vendor they like better than you.
  • They are simply not interested and the thought of telling you is unpleasant especially if they have non-confrontational or avoidant personalities
  • They are not interested, and because of a personality flaw, they don’t care enough about you to let you know.  They are essentially sociopathic instead of empathetic.

Of all the possible reasons above, only the last three are truly negative.  If it is any other reason, your prospect is likely still interested, and therefore, you should not give up on them.

When a prospective client does go dark, what can you do?

1. Most importantly, go back to value.  In order to catch the prospect’s attention in the first place, you likely had to use valuable insights.  Do that again in future communications.  In other words, don’t say things like, “I’m just checking in,” or “I’m still waiting to hear from you.”  Instead, send them value-driven messages with new insights you haven’t mentioned before.  Your follow-up communications should be compelling, not whiny.

2. Be persistent.  Because prospects likely have many other things going on in their lives, they’ll assume an interested vendor like you will keep on them.  Even if they’re interested, they will often wait for you to initiate everything.

3. Mix it up a bit. Try different messages and use varied communication channels to get a person who goes dark on you.

4.  Try a couple creative tactics.  I find that a text message is more likely to be returned than an email.  You can try communicating with them via a social media direct message.  Some sales reps will send a calendar-invite email to jar loose a dark prospect.

5.  After a few attempts, you might try a certain language technique.  Sales expert Jim Keenan recommends this phraseology: “I’m confused. You said you (insert issues the prospect said they wanted/needed plus the last commitment they made to you plus the impact of not changing). Has something changed?”

Keenan says this technique holds them accountable and challenges them. I agree and have used it many times.

6. I know a lot of sales reps who, after many attempts, use a short and simple phrase sent via email or text: “Did I lose you?”  Some sales pros won’t even write anything else.  If they do elaborate, it’s not much.  This technique plays on our fear of loss and our desire not to let people down.

7.  If you still have no communication after several attempts and an extended period of time, you have a choice to make.  If the prospect would make a great client, you can move them into “nurture” mode by putting them on a periodic email drip.  If the prospect wouldn’t be a star client, maybe you just delete them from your pipeline.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

Sometimes You Should Stay Quiet During Sales Presentations

By Jeff Beals

The typical sales professional is excited when they land an in-person meeting with a prospect.  This is your change to make your pitch and state your case.  We call it the “sales presentation,” but that term is actually misleading.

Just because it’s a “sales presentation” doesn’t mean you do all the talking.  Sales pros tend to be gregarious, outgoing people.  In some ways, that’s good, because extroverts are more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may deliver more entertaining, compelling sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of sales comprises only part of a good sales presentation. The other part of the process is quiet. Part of the sales presentation meeting should be devoted to building a relationship, listening and determining exactly what the prospect values without any assumption or ambiguity.

If you want to be successful in sales, there’s something far more important than an outgoing personality. It’s the ability to determine exactly what your prospect values. Here are four ways to do just that even during the sales presentation meeting:

Listen & Truly Hear

Too often we pretend like we’re listening or even think we’re doing a good job of listening, but in reality, we don’t retain what the other person is telling us. If you sell things for a living, you need to listen with the same intensity and attention to detail that a detective uses when he or she is interviewing a suspected criminal. Tell yourself that the person in front of you will say something at some point in the conversation that can directly lead to a closed deal. You can’t afford to miss it simply because you’re having a second conversation with yourself inside your mind when you need to be focused on the other person.

Never Assume

Our own biases often get in the way of our efforts to figure out what our prospects truly value. Look, you know your products and services better than the prospects do especially if you’ve been in your current selling role for a long time. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable sales professionals can be vulnerable to assuming what clients value because they’ve seen so many other clients and know so much about the product. Don’t succumb to temptation and start assuming you know everything you need to know about your prospect. I call it the “sin of assumption,” and it just might be the deadliest sin in business.

Ask Probing Questions

When we first sit down with a prospect, we engage in small talk or idle chit-chat. That’s a great way to warm up the conversation and make everyone comfortable. But don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. Start asking questions that help you uncover value. The best questions are probing in nature. Start questions with “Why?” “How?” “What if…?” “What would happen if you…?”

Bite Your Tongue

Don’t start talking until you are sure you know what your prospect values. If you’re not 100 percent convinced, keep asking probing questions and keep listening intently to the answers. When you do talk, your sales pitch should be customized based on what the prospective client told you during the value discovery process. Portray your products or services in such a way that they satisfy exactly what the prospect wants and needs.

As you consider the four ways to determine value mentioned above, it should become apparent that there is plenty of room for introverts in the sales business. As long as they can muster the gumption to approach prospects in the first place and turn on the charm when it’s time to present, introverts might actually be better at sales than extroverts. When it’s all said and done, the deal typically goes to the person who most closely provides what each unique client really wants.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

Achieve Celebrity Status Without Becoming an Awful Person

By Jeff Beals

In order to enjoy the lead-generation and prospecting benefits that a sales practitioner can get from personal branding, I recommend you become a sort of celebrity.

But I always feel a little uncomfortable using the word, “celebrity,” because a lot of celebrities are frankly lousy people.

We see it all the time – celebrities behaving badly:

1. A beautiful teenage movie star grows up into a drug-addicted has-been with a long rap sheet and a collection of orange-jumpsuit photos.

2. A professional athlete goes to jail for assaulting his girlfriend.

3. A famous musician and his bodyguard are arrested for punching an autograph-seeker in the face.

And then there are those who do outrageous things in hope of becoming famous.

The continuing popularity of reality television shows and viral social media videos have made it possible for seemingly anyone to be a celebrity if they have the right look, at least a little bit of charisma and the willingness to perform outrageous stunts in front of millions of incredulous eyes. Turn on television and you’re apt to see someone allowing a camera crew to document their most intimate moments just so they can be a celebrity.

The word “celebrity” has become tarnished.

You may be surprised that I, as author of a book on self marketing, am troubled by the over-emphasis on celebrity status in America. I’m concerned despite the fact that I advise professionals to become “a celebrity in your own sphere of interest.”

In a loud, crowded and brutally competitive world, it’s easier to find and attract new business when you are well known by the people who make up your personal target audience: – clients, potential clients, anyone who could refer business, industry VIPs, community leaders, etc. If you’re a celebrity in your own sphere of business, you possess social and professional power that can help you reach your goals.

I think of “celebrity in your own sphere of interest” as being known for an on-going series of respected achievements. In order for your “celebrity status” to be effective, exhibit good behavior. If you work hard and do impressive things, you deserve be “celebrated,” and that’s where the word “celebrity” comes from.

But how do you let the world know the wonderful things you are doing without coming across negatively?

You need the right attitude and the right frame of mind.

Despite the necessity of personal branding, many sales practitioners are not entirely comfortable doing it. They’re afraid they might cross the fine line and become the type of person that others try to avoid. That’s a reasonable concern, because nobody likes braggarts, show-offs, know-it-alls and blowhards.

Ironically, living as a celebrity in your own sphere of interest requires the virtue of humility. Promote yourself while making it look like you’re not trying. Let people know what you’re doing without being obnoxious. Above all, make sure you have real accomplishments to promote.

You can avoid turning your personal branding efforts into egotistical boasting by asking yourself two questions:

If people knew the real reason why I want to become a celebrity in my own sphere of interest, would I be embarrassed?

If the answer is “no,” you’re probably okay.

Do the things I do for personal branding purposes also have legitimate economic, cultural or social benefit?

If the answer is “yes,” you’re probably okay.

Simply put, you will find it easier to generate new business if a lot of quality people know you and have a positive image of you in their minds. Being a celebrity in your own sphere of interest makes you more powerful. Just make sure that as you journey down the path to personal stardom, you take your ethical and moral beliefs along with you. If you do, you should be just fine.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

The Secrets of a Successful Sales Presentation

A sales presentation is your pitch.

More specifically, the presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s offerings are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you can solve a prospect’s unique problems.

Sales presentations tend to occur after earlier preparatory sales work has been completed.

Before meeting in person, you probably found the prospective client thanks to your prospecting efforts that caught their attention because of some compelling value you presented.  You have most likely had at least one phone call where you were able to ask probing questions.

During those pre-meeting phone conversations, you should have asked the prospect numerous questions to find their pain points and determine what they truly value.

Although the presentation is your chance to highlight yourself and your company, there is still plenty of opportunity to listen. That’s important, because you can never know enough about a prospect and listening strengthens relationships.

Here are 9 pieces of advice to help you make sales presentations more successful for you:

1. A sales presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s attributes are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you would solve a prospect’s unique problems.  Just make sure the presentation is tailored to how your offering exactly satisfies what matters to that client.  In other words, limit the talk about how long you’ve been in business, how many clients you serve, the combined years of service your staff has, etc.

2. Don’t just focus on presenting. Think about building a trusting relationship with the prospect.  You can build trust by establishing rapport, communicating thoroughly, being appropriately self-deprecating and listening earnestly when the prospect talks.  A presentation isn’t all talk. Make sure to listen as well.

3. Structure your sales presentation both rationally and persuasively, taking advantage of human nature.  Don’t forget the emotion.  Salespeople love to present logical arguments as to why a prospect should buy, but prospects purchase based on emotion.  Yes, that’s true even in complex B2B transactions.

4. When you coach and facilitate your prospects, the hard sell is not necessary.

Determine what part of your sales presentation is boilerplate and which part is to be customized. Focus your preparation on the customized part.

5.  Cast a vision of how great life will be with your product or service by using a little showmanship during the sales presentation.  Highlighting value-added benefits can be just enough to push the deal over the top.

6. Over-reliance on audio/visual aids or props is a mistake but not using them all can make you come across as unprepared, unprofessional or unsophisticated.

7.  Tell the truth, communicate earnestly and be yourself (but be the most appealing version of yourself).

8. Two presenters are usually better than one, but three presenters can feel like a crowd.  The larger the number of prospects in the meeting, the more representatives you can have from your company.

9. Doing something a little special and out of the ordinary makes prospects feel as if you truly value them and their business.  If there is a pleasant surprise during the sales presentation, it can help you chances, just as long as the surprise isn’t cheesy or over the top.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.