Tag Archives: sales leadership

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.

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.

Consequences of Missing Out on a Sale

By Jeff Beals

I was talking with my brother-in-law last week, and he shared an experience he had at a local chapter meeting of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

An insurance executive was delivering a speech about sales success.  During her presentation, she talked about how insurance agents sometimes miss out on a sale.  When that happens, she said, the typical insurance agent just quickly moves on.

“We might not get paid, we miss out on a commission and we’re disappointed,” she said, “but we quickly move on to the next lead.”

But sometimes missing out on a sale is downright tragic.  She used life insurance as an example.

“What happens if you didn’t prepare before the presentation or you don’t come across just right, and you miss that sale?” the speaker asked. “You might find yourself years down the road, having a dreaded conversation with the surviving spouse and the children.”

In other words, missing out on a sale doesn’t necessarily hurt just us.  It could end up hurting your prospect.  The products and services you sell are important.  People need what you offer.

But prospects often don’t know what they don’t know.  They sometimes just don’t understand how your offering can protect them or at least make their lives more enjoyable.

What’s more, prospects often reactively, reflexively say “no,” even when they don’t know all the facts and even when they kind of want your offering.

I’m reminded of book, When Buyers Say No: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward, by Ben Katt and Tom Hopkins.  The book provides a number of reasons why buyers say “no” even if they’re actually interested in your offering:

  • The prospect has unanswered questions or concerns
  • You haven’t fully figured out what the prospect values and addressed all those values.  That can lead you to offer products and services that aren’t quite right for the prospect
  • It’s possible you haven’t unearthed all the prospect’s objections
  • The prospect might be uncomfortable with how quickly the sales process is going, and he or she simply wants to slow things down.

Now, sometimes, “no” indeed means “no.” You can usually tell when a prospect is resolutely uninterested.  But that’s often not the case after a prospect has taken the time to meet with you and talk at length about your product.

If you sense the prospect might not really mean “no,” the best thing to do is go back into probing-question mode.  And certainly don’t get defensive or start worrying.  Those reactions are counterproductive.

Ask them about their concerns and hesitations.  Chances are good that you misunderstood one of their answers or failed to ask a key question in the first place.  Listen carefully to the answers and truly absorb what the prospect says (instead of going through the motions, making it look like you’re listening).

Katt and Hopkins then recommend you confirm the buyer is ready to take action. At this point, you simply say something like “If I can adequately address your concerns, would you be ready to move forward with the purchase?”

Then you provide an appropriately customized answer and ask for the business again.

When you go the extra step, and make one more effort, you are not just helping yourself.  You could be making a huge difference for your prospective clients.  They just might not initially realize what a big favor you are doing for them.

Lifelong Learning Loop

For the last month, I’ve been sharing my favorite book summaries with you because of my partnership with Readitfor.me.

Between now and the end of the month, my friends at Readitfor.me are offering a Lifetime Membership to their service for only $249. Their founder, Steve Cunningham, has made a video outlining the offer, along with his presentation on The Lifelong Learning Loop: The 7 Practices of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners.

You can watch that video, and take advantage of the Lifetime Membership Offer, here.

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 Do You Cope When the Sales Profession is Rough?

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say you are in the running for a particularly large deal.

You invest countless hours and other resources to win the business. For a while, it looks promising. You build a trusting relationship with the primary decision maker and have demonstrated how your offering perfectly fits their need. The prospect starts using phrases like “When we work together…” and “You will be responsible for…” and “We really need you…” You now consider the decision maker to be a friend.

Then suddenly your main contact starts being vague and evasive and is slow in returning calls. Two weeks later, the decision maker, your new “buddy,” sheepishly tells you they chose a different provider. It makes no sense to you that the other company was chosen, because they don’t provide the things that the prospective client originally told you were the biggest priorities. You feel frustrated, defeated and misled. Worse yet, you were counting on that business and it vanished. You’re incredulous and wonder, “Why did they lie to me?”

If this hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky and know that it will probably happen in the future.  Working in sales can be very frustrating.  One of the most important skills a sales practitioner can possess is the ability to bounce back when life punches you in the gut.

Given all the pressure in this business, here are a few ideas to help you handle stress, avoid burnout and stay motivated: 

1. To cope with the inevitable rejection in a sales career, concentrate on your victories. Celebrate each one of them in your own way. Some people will tell you that if you simply expect success, you don’t need to celebrate victories. I disagree. Appreciate everything.

2. Keep in mind that selling is a noble profession. Without sales activity, the wheels of commerce grind to a halt. Your work creates jobs and feeds families. Sales is the lifeblood of your company. Without you and your colleagues, there would be no company.

3. Remember that character is king. Focus on people – the hopes and dreams of the clients you serve. Draw inspiration and motivation from the people who surround you. When you remember that the things you sell have real impacts on real people, it helps you ride through the rough patches.

4. Embrace the competitive side of sales.  Sales is game. Try to accumulate little (and sometimes big) victories each day. Playing to win removes the drudgery of day-to-day work.

5. Take pride in your resilience. It feels good once you have successfully persevered through difficult times. Remember that feeling anytime you feel hopelessness and then do what it takes to feel that way again.

6. Make it fun. Those who don’t find ways to enjoy their work typically don’t survive long in a brutally competitive industry. Find the joyful and positive aspects of your work and focus on them.

7. Tell the truth even when it hurts. Integrity leads to success. You will be rewarded with high levels of client retention.

8. And finally, as you sell today, imagine what your legacy will be years down the road. Your work in sales literally shapes the future. I’d say that’s rather significant.

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

The Other Part of Goal-Setting: What Will You Stop Doing?

By Jeff Beals

Hopefully, you have set your 2019 goals by now, but there’s still time if you haven’t. Either way, there’s an important part of goal setting that you might not have considered:  What are you going to stop doing?

The beginning of a year is a good time to declutter your business and your life.  The longer you’ve been working in sales, the more unnecessary stuff you accumulate in your brain, on your calendar and in your job description.  Sometimes that stuff needs to be purged.

Salespeople are notorious for adding things to their plate without taking things off.  Why?  Salespeople tend to be ambitious and very confident in their abilities.  They want multiple ways to prospect even if one prospecting method hasn’t paid off much in the past.  They tend to be independent personalities, rugged individualists who think they can do it all.  Sales professionals know they need to persevere in an eat-what-you-kill environment, so they don’t give up or accept defeat lightly.

Those are great traits, essential for long-term success in sales, but they are traits that can burn you out if you’re not careful.

Since there is great power in decluttering, here are a few things you might consider stopping:

Blowing off leads

Fifty percent of sales leads never receive proper follow-up.  That is probably the greatest waste of resources in the sales world.  If you let leads fall through the cracks because you’re focusing on less important things, by all means, stop doing it.

Poor Qualification

Stop wasting time on people who will never buy.  For whatever reason, many sales reps latch onto prospects who look good on the surface, but deep down, you know they’ll never buy from you.

Networking for the sake of networking 

Some sales people never miss an event.  They are on umpteen boards and committees and are always running from one meeting to the next.  Why do they over commit and run themselves ragged just trying to keep up with all of it?  Prospecting!  They are afraid, they’ll miss out on their next dream client if they are not at every event.  While I’m a big proponent of prospecting through networking, you must be efficient.  If a time-chewing obligation is not regularly producing convertible leads, don’t trick yourself into believing you have to be there.

Chasing Shiny Objects

Many sales practitioners are looking for silver bullets, anything that could save them from researching the right prospects and picking up the phone to call them.  If you have been hoping that social media can generate all prospects you need, you’re probably coming up short.  Stop it.

Lack of Focus

Stop wasting time on non-sales functions.  Sales professionals are often drafted by upper management to serve on company-wide projects or task forces.  This is especially true if you are a senior leader in the sales division.  Sales people tend to have first-hand knowledge of customers and buying trends, so they are valuable contributors to these company-wide groups.

But be careful.  I’ve seen sales professionals sucked into so much committee work having nothing to do with sales that they have hardly any time left to sell.  The United Way, for instance, is a fine organization, but do we really want our sales reps on the United Way employee committee instead of working the phones and hitting the streets?  Sales is the lifeblood of the company; we need all sales hands on deck.

Would you like to know the single most important thing to stop?  Counter-productive thinking.  No matter how successful you are, you probably cling to some negative ideas.  Every sales rep is at least occasionally afflicted with self doubt.  Whatever negative things you harbor in the deep recesses of your brain, now is the time to perform a Japanese decluttering miracle on them.

So, consider this permission to declutter your sales career and liberate yourself.  What do you need to stop?

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Why Do Underperforming Sales Reps Underperform?

By Jeff Beals

Why do underperforming sales reps underperform?

That question has vexed sales leaders since the beginning of time.  The consequences and manifestations of that question have caused many a sales manager to waste countless hours of precious time.

Below is a quick list of what leads to underwhelming results. The first couple of items are very difficult to fix.  The other items can be fixed but only if the sales rep has a strong personal desire to turn things around and succeed.

Mindset – Low performers often lack a love for sales and the competitiveness to go out and win deals.  They lack the self-generated motivation that drives other reps to strive for money, victories and a sense of accomplishment.  Furthermore, some people are actually embarrassed or ashamed to work in sales.  This is more common than you might think.  There are a number of people who work in sales but wish they didn’t because they don’t see it as a prestigious enough job or they feel guilty approaching strangers.  Finally, some sales reps just aren’t team players. They are difficult to manage and don’t collaborate well with co-workers.

Laziness – Sales is not rocket science, but it does take hard work.  Some people just aren’t willing to put in the effort that it takes.

Personal problems – Hopefully, these are just temporary barriers that will eventually go away, but it is awfully difficult to focus on your work when things are in shambles at home.

No understanding of client value – Underperforming reps are more likely to make product-focused calls, meaning they focus too much on the features and benefits of their products/services, talk too much about themselves and focus on how great their company is.  Instead, they should focus on what the prospect truly values and what outcomes the prospect seeks.

Questions – Poor producers typically don’t ask enough questions, and the questions they do ask are superficial in nature.  Successful sales reps ask probing questions and as many as necessary to understand what truly motivates the prospect.

Insufficient prospecting activity – In order to create new clients, sales reps must get on the phone, send emails and show up at prospects’ offices.  They must be willing to interrupt a stranger’s day.  Low producers almost never make enough “dials per day.”

Selling on price – Because low producers don’t build adequate pipelines, they tend to be too dependent upon any one prospect at any given time.  This can make them desperate and more willing to offer price reductions and discounts in order to close sales.  Additionally, underperformers are more likely to focus on price during calls and meetings instead of focusing on the true value the product or service provides.

Trustworthiness – At some level, prospects need to feel like they can trust a sales rep especially when it comes to complex or high-dollar sales.  If a sales rep can’t establish trust quickly with new prospects, he or she is facing a steep uphill climb.

Product Knowledge – When clients do have specific questions about a product, you better be able to answer the question confidently, accurately and quickly.  Many underperformers can’t or won’t.

Most sales managers spend an inordinate amount of time with their underperformers.  Except for new sales reps, it is generally counterproductive to spend a lot of time with your lowest producers.

If you’re trying to decide with whom to spend time, focus on your middle producers.  Those are the sales reps who are producing adequate results but have room for much more. Second, focus on your high producers, helping them maximize their already impressive results. Your third and final priority would be the low producers, determining which ones have potential and which ones should go work somewhere else.

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

How Can We Improve the Sales Profession’s Reputation?

By Jeff Beals

The good news is that salespeople are considered more trustworthy than stockbrokers, politicians and lobbyists.

Unfortunately, that’s it. Pretty much every other profession is considered more trustworthy than sales.  Ouch.

Now here’s the bad news: only 3 percent of people consider salespersons to be trustworthy.  That’s according to a HubSpot Global Jobs Poll from 2016 that asked 928 people the question: “Who do you consider to be trustworthy?”  Each respondent was asked to choose three job titles from a list of 20 provided.

While salespersons ranked low, no profession did terribly well.  Doctors came in number one, but only 49 percent of people thought they were among the most trustworthy professions.  Only 48 percent thought firefighters were trustworthy.  For crying out loud, firefighters run into burning buildings to save lives and even rescue pets.

Lawyers get a bad rap, some of it deserved, but 12 percent of respondents thought lawyers were among the most trustworthy professions.  That’s four times the number of people who trust sales reps.

And this one kind of  makes me laugh: only 5 percent chose baristas as trustworthy.  Perhaps respondents were mad about screwed up latte orders at the coffeehouse drive-through.

Four percent of respondents named professional athletes as trustworthy.  If I was one of the survey participants, I would have definitely put those prima donnas below sales reps.

The sales profession has made great strides over the years, and it continues to become more professional and sophisticated each year. Nevertheless, old stereotypes about salespeople persist.

Given our profession’s tarnished reputation, how can we become more trusted by customers and more respected by the general public?

Ethics

Research indicates that ethical sales practitioners end up making more money (in the long run) than unethical sales reps.  They also head off potential trouble and are less likely to be fired.  Behaving ethically in no way makes you a weaker sales rep.  It makes you a good one.

Communication

Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Be truthful and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  Remember that bad news does not improve with age.

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.

Predictability

People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you’re the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.

Responsiveness

Because technology, people have become accustomed to getting any desired information immediately. That means we have to be ultra responsive to our prospects and current customers.

With so much information immediately available at our fingertips, we now view slow communicators as “untrustworthy.”  It’s almost as if people think you’re incompetent or perhaps hiding something if you take too long.  Speed is now equated with trust.

Trusted Adviser

Those sales pros who put their clients’ best interest first, become incredibly valuable to those clients.  Not only is that good for personal gain, it helps improve the reputation of our entire profession.

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

How Much Time Should Sales Managers Spend With Their Reps?

By Jeff Beals

In any given year, half of all sales reps fail to make their quotas.  That’s a macro statistic, not necessarily applicable to every industry.  Some companies might be better; others are worse.  So it would make sense that sales leaders do everything they possibly can to help sales reps improve their performance.

I believe that, above all else, the best thing a sales manager can do for his or her reps is to personally coach them.  That means managers observe what reps do, give immediate feedback and talk openly about how the rep will grow and develop.  Unfortunately, too many sales managers either can’t or won’t engage in one-on-one coaching with their reps.  Some managers try but just aren’t very good at it.

Anecdotally, I have long known about the power of one-on-one coaching, but now we have some evidence.  My friend, Jim Keenan, CEO of A Sales Guy, Inc., released a new study: “Sales Coaching and Quota Attainment Survey: Does Sales Coaching Work?”

Keenan’s team interviewed 1,010 sales professionals, both managers and reps, about their experiences and opinions.

For purposes of the study, “sales coaching” was defined as “the deliberate, one-on-one engagement with salespeople by their supervisors to provide feedback with the intention of improving a sales rep’s ability to achieve quota and expand their selling skills in order to excel on the job.”

The study discovered that salespeople who exceed their quotas are more than 30 percent more likely to be coached than those who do not.

Additionally, sales reps want to be coached.  Among reps who are not coached, 66.1 percent said they would like to be coached.  Among reps who are coached, almost 70 percent of them said it was “good” or “awesome.”

The study showed that one coaching tactic was particularly powerful. Those companies that recorded actual sales calls and then used those recordings for coaching purposes, had reps who were 30.2 percent more likely to exceed quotas.

But here is the most shocking statistic that came out of Keenan’s study: More than 48 percent of sales reps say they are coached, yet 82.1 percent of sales leaders claim to coach their sales teams.  Either someone is lying, or someone has no idea what coaching really is!

Why the difference?  There could be a number of reasons.  Some sales managers might think they are coaching when in reality they are having only superficial conversations with their reps.  Stopping by a rep’s desk and asking about a personal life event or progress on an account does not qualify as “sales coaching.”  Some managers might think it does.

What’s the biggest excuse sales managers give for not doing one-on-one coaching with their reps?  That’s easy: time.  Sales managers are always short on time, so the excuse has some merit.  Nevertheless, the biggest deficits in sales departments are training, coaching and mentorship. Sales managers must provide resources and teach reps how to succeed.  Managers must be organized and do a good job of prioritizing rep development in their weekly schedules.

That also means taking the coaching role seriously.  Even among sales managers who actually schedule private coaching sessions with employees, a large number of them regularly cancel, attempt to reschedule or show up late for the meetings.  In order for coaching to be an effective tool, the manager has to take it even more seriously than the reps. The manager has to be completely committed to coaching or it just won’t happen.

I’d like to add one caveat.  The difference of opinion between reps and managers as to whether coaching takes place in their companies could be attributed to excuse-making on the part of sales reps.  An underperforming or undermotivated sales rep could claim a lack of coaching as justification for his or her lackluster results.

That said, Keenan’s study is crystal clear: sales coaching works.  If you lead a sales team, it would be wise for you to establish a coaching-and-mentoring culture in your department.

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.  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.”

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

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

How on Earth Do You Motivate Salespeople?

By Jeff Beals

It’s an over-used cliché, but managing sales teams has often been compared to herding cats.

Since the beginning of modern business history, sales leaders have struggled with how to motivate salespeople to go the extra mile and exceed their sales goals.

A rare few, perhaps 20 percent of sales reps, are naturally competitive and highly ambitious.  Those top producers consistently do well.  But what about everyone else?  How do you get the mid-level producers to do a little more?  How do you get the low-level producers to do at least something?

Motivation can be a tricky subject for managers.  Different people want different things from their jobs.  One person may be money-motivated. Another person may seek personal satisfaction and growth.  Others might be inspired to work hard because of the difference they are making in a clients’ lives.

In the 1950’s, psychologist Frank Herzberg set out to understand employee satisfaction.  He surveyed countless employees from various industries, asking them to describe situations in which they felt good and in which the felt bad about their jobs.

The result of this work became what’s known as Herzberg’s “Motivation-Hygiene Theory.  Herzberg discovered certain things are tied with satisfaction (motivators), while other things are consistently associated with dissatisfaction (demotivators):

Motivators

Achievement – The perception that a sales employee has that he or she is growing and improving.

Recognition – People love awards and intangible recognition as well.

Work itself – The best sales people simply enjoy the art of selling.  They enjoy products/industries.  To use this motivator to your advantage, you need find ways to add more meaning to the job.  One way is to link the rep’s work to a larger goal or purpose.  Help them understand why their work matters.  Be assured that people will find value in knowing how their work contributes to the goals of your company.

Increased responsibility – The desire to expand duties and authority.

Demotivators

  1. Company policies/procedures
  2. Supervision
  3. Working conditions
  4. Compensation

Are you surprised by the “demotivators” list?  Many leaders are shocked to see that compensation is not a motivator.

Herzberg calls the demotivators “hygiene factors.”  He uses that term, because hygiene is related to maintenance.  In other words, good hygiene is a daily thing you should do to stay healthy.  Hygiene factors, or demotivators, do not give us positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, but if they are absent from our lives, they result in dissatisfaction.

In other words, compensation is more of a base expectation, something you get in exchange for your work.  Because of that, compensation is not enough of a differentiator to make us stay at one job versus seeking another.

Plus, compensation is highly replaceable for top producers.  They realize they can get paid well anywhere they go because of their talents and work habits.  If money is an equalizer, they look for other quality-of-life factors.

What does this mean for you if you’re a leader of sales professionals?

Realize that fair and clearly communicated compensation packages are important, but they aren’t enough to motivate people.  Find ways to incorporate achievement, recognition, meaningful work and increased responsibility into your motivation repertoire.

Just like a prospective customer determines what is valuable to them, employees determine what they care about.  We need to be sensitive to what makes each person tick.

By the way, don’t confuse a lack of confidence with a lack of motivation.  If someone is underperforming, candidly assess whether it’s motivation issue or a confidence issue.  If confidence is the problem, the next step would be to look into increased training, coaching, field observation with feedback, role-playing and/or mentoring.

UNIQUE HELP FOR SALES LEADERS:

Being a sales leader can be a lonely existence. There are simply not a lot of places you can go to seek guidance without exposing your personal concerns and weaknesses inside your company.

That’s why my partner, Beth Mastre, and I have created the Sales Leader Mastermind Group.  It’s a collection of sales leaders who meet regularly, share ideas and grow in their profession.  The group has been meeting for a year and has been a smashing success.  We’re expanding the group from 8 to 12 members and are looking for a few sales leaders to join us.

Would you benefit from having such a resource?  If so, check out the prospectus HERE.

The Sales Leader Mastermind Group is a serious commitment, but it will change the trajectory of your career and your company.

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.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300.