Tag Archives: sales motivation

PROSPECTING: Sales Pros Should Be Seemingly Everywhere

By Jeff Beals

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

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

I admit that’s a demanding standard.

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

Many prestigious, big-time clients in the typical industry can only be reached through relationships. They do not commonly walk into your office asking to be your customer. They are not amenable to cold calls, and they won’t respond to your direct mail piece no matter how pretty it is. You have to go out and meet them face-to-face in the places where they live, work and play.

“Big elephant” clients know they are important, and they expect to be wined and dined, so to speak. They are big deals and expect to be treated like a big deal.  That requires sales professionals to go out into the world and actively communicate. Getting access to the highly desirable clients requires you to be among your sphere of interest on a regular basis (or get a referral from someone they trust).

Get out there and meet everyone you can. Ask questions. Be like a detective turning over every stone, looking for any shred of evidence that can help you make the sale.

Great salespersons are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere.

If someone ever says to you, “I see you everywhere,” you know you’re doing something right.

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

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

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

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

By Jeff Beals

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

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

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

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

Why do I tell you this story?

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

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

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

This is not a recipe for high profitability.

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

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

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

Just say “no” to RFPs!

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

The Agenda: Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings?”

By Jeff Beals

Why do so many salespeople avoid sales meetings?  Why do some reps consider sales meetings to be just one step above pain, suffering and disease?  Part of the problem might be the structure of your meetings.

Too many sales meetings meander haphazardly from one topic to another without much purpose. Too many sales leaders wing it, showing up without a thoughtful agenda, and even worse, no real justification for holding the meeting.

During such meetings, attendees are generally disengaged until someone brings up a controversial subject. Only then, as the meeting becomes a gripe-fest, do people perk up and pay attention.

Never hold a sales meeting just for the sake of holding a meeting.  If the meeting doesn’t improve skills, encourage communication and foster trust, you’re wasting everybody’s time.

Last week, I wrote about some ways you could entice people to show up for your sales meetings. This week, I’m going to talk about the essential components of a meeting agenda.  You don’t have time for all of these agenda items at each meeting, so pick and choose which ones are best for you at any given time:

Celebrations of Success – In this part of the meeting, highlight the major sales that have been closed in the past week.  Discussing these completed deals boosts morale and also provides an opportunity for other sales reps to learn from the experience.

Pending Deals – Highlight transactions that are in the queue but not yet closed.  This will give everyone an idea of what business/revenue is on its way. Be careful about this section, however, as some sales reps are superstitious and don’t like to count their chickens before they hatch.

Announcements – Every sales meeting should have a “housekeeping” section in which you inform attendees about important details and events in the company.  Communication (or lack thereof) is a major complaint of salespeople and a big cause of their discontent.  While this agenda item is quite important, only spend the minimum amount of time necessary on it during the meeting. I’ve seen way too many sales meetings get sidetracked by unnecessary discussion related to simple announcements.  Read the announcements quickly then move on! Send an announcement summary email immediately following the meeting in which you reiterate the important announcement details.

Rumors in the Marketplace – Open the floor for attendees to share what they’ve heard about competitors, potential clients and about macro issues that could have an impact on your company.  Your sales force is out and about in the field every day, so they are collectively a tremendous source of intel.

Sales Training – No matter how long you’ve been in the sales game, you can always get better.  You probably won’t have time to do this at every meeting, but periodically bring in an expert speaker to help your team improve its prospecting, qualifying and closing skills.

Lessons of the Week – Here is a chance for one or more of your sales reps to share their experiences. Use it as a way to educate the entire group about the pitfalls and barriers sales reps encountered and how they either successfully overcame them or failed because of them.  This type of learning is immeasurably valuable and ultimately develops a set of best practices for your company’s sales department.

Internal Guest Speakers – Invite a key person from one your company’s operating units. Have him or her provide updates on important products or services.  It is obviously important that sales reps are up on all the important aspects of what they sell.

Marketing Demonstrations – Regularly invite representatives from the marketing department to go over new campaigns. Ask the marketing rep to show new ads, videos, mailings, social media posts, websites, etc.  Life is easier when salespeople and marketing employees work hand in glove.

Group Counseling – One way to get sales reps to bond with each other is to have them help each other out.  During this segment of the meeting, ask a rep to bring up a problem he or she is having with a difficult client or prospect. Invite the rest of the group to give input, ideas and advice. This can be immensely beneficial for the person with the client issue and educational for everyone else. Perhaps most importantly, it brings the sales reps together as a team.

Discussion Time – Some sales leaders ask their reps to read an article before the meeting and then have the group discuss it. It could be an industry-related article or a sales-and-marketing article.  If you do this, choose an article that is short, reads easily and has valuable content. An article that provides a new way of looking at a common problem tends to be received the most enthusiastically.

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

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

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings

By Jeff Beals

Does this describe the sales meetings at your company?

It’s 10:06 a.m. on Tuesday and people are still strolling in for the start of your standing 10:00 sales meeting. Those who are already seated, including the vice president of sales, are chatting about what they did last weekend and in no apparent rush to get things underway. When the meeting finally does begin at 10:08, half the people are on their phones reading emails or playing games.  Several other attendees didn’t bother to show, claiming they had “important client meetings.” 

The meeting bounces from one topic to another with a lot of interruptions and spontaneous, tangential conversations.  When the meeting finally ends – seventeen minutes past the scheduled time – attendees bolt out as fast as they can, grumbling to each other about how much time they just wasted.  One sales rep says to another, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”

Sadly, the above passage describes way too many sales meetings at way too many companies.  And that’s why attendance at sales meetings is often not so stellar, and those sales reps who do show up are often sitting back in their chairs, rolling their eyes and not engaging in the meeting.

Sales reps generally dislike their sales meetings, but that’s because meeting leaders typically don’t put enough effort into those meetings.  If you’re the sales leader, it’s up to you to make your meetings useful and desirable. That’s especially true if your sales reps are independent contractors and legally can’t be “forced” to attend.

Do you want people to attend your sales meetings?  Do you want sales reps to be more engaged and contribute more during the meetings?  If so, I have some help for you:

See It Through their Eyes – Always try to see your meetings through the attendees’ eyes.  When you view the agenda from the sales reps’ eyes, you can assess the meeting’s strengths and weaknesses. In order to increase the attendance at and participation in your sales meetings, make the meetings valuable to the attendees. As a sales leader, you don’t define what the attendees value; they do.

No B.S. Zone – Be as honest and transparent as possible regarding company policies, changes in the commission structure, and new product launches. Try to establish a “No B.S. Zone.” Sales reps hate hearing a bunch of politically correct corporate double-speak from their sales manager.  Sure, there are some things you are not at liberty to discuss with sales reps, but with everything else, be an open book.  The sales reps will trust you more and become more engaged in all facets of the company.  Too many organizations are unnecessarily tight-lipped about non-essential things.

Skillful Facilitation – The person who leads the sales meeting must have good facilitation skills, which means he or she is fully present and in charge of the meeting. A competent meeting facilitator is inclusive-but-assertive, meaning he or she makes sure all people are involved in the discussion but has the discipline necessary to keep the meeting on schedule.  The facilitator should always be on the lookout for an excuse to publicly praise individual sales reps in front of the whole group. A good sales leader sees the facilitation of sales meetings to be an art, carefully balancing the agenda/business side of the meeting with humor and light heartedness.

Free Stuff – Everyone likes to receive something for nothing.  Periodically give away some company swag, such as t-shirts or coffee cups with the company logo. Free food also helps.  Some companies provide coffee and doughnuts at their sales meetings. Other companies will periodically reserve a room at a nearby restaurant and provide breakfast or lunch for the whole sales team.

Rotating Facilitators – Once in a while, it might make sense to have one of the sales reps lead the weekly meeting.  Periodically offer one of the normal attendees to be guest facilitator. Let him or her design their own agenda.  Having one of the reps act as guest facilitator would be fun and a nice change of pace for everyone.

Outside Speakers – Meeting attendees tend to listen more intently when someone outside the company is presenting.  Just like the rotating facilitator advice above, it’s a change of pace. What’s more, high-quality speakers provide valuable information that will help sales reps be more effective and close deals faster.

Book Club – Find a well-written book about sales techniques or industry content and provide a copy to each rep.  Assign one chapter a week and then take a few minutes to discuss that chapter during the meeting.  Discuss how the book content relates to your company’s work.

Team Building – It might make sense a couple times a year to cancel the weekly sales meeting. In its stead, schedule a bonding activity such as an outing to a go-cart-racing track, golf course or game arcade.  You could also consider hiring a retreat leader and going through a structured team building exercise.  If you choose to do a facilitated team building exercise, it is better to do it off site rather than inside your office.

Welcome the Newbies – Always take time to introduce newcomers to the sales team.  Give rookies a chance to introduce themselves and give an overview of their career backgrounds.  Then go around the room and have all the existing sales reps share their name, work function and length of tenure at the company.

Recruitment Tool – If you have a well-organized sales meeting with engaged attendees, you have a nice recruitment tool.  If someone is thinking about joining your team, let them observe a sales meeting (assuming you are not going over confidential internal information that week).  Most existing sales reps will be even more alert and active in the meeting if they have a prospective colleague present.

Leave Them Wanting More – In the end, the meeting should be a positive, enjoyable experience filled with valuable information that helps attendees be more successful.  But don’t go too long. A great meeting is even better when it ends on time.

Next time, it will be Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings,” in which I will discuss what should actually be on your meeting agenda. Stay tuned!

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

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

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

The Only Sales Knowledge You’ll Ever Need

anthony-iannarino-book

By Jeff Beals

In his new book on selling, Anthony Iannarino asks readers to finish this sentence: “I sell ___.”

He then writes, “If you answered anything other than ‘outcomes,’ you are wrong. If you answered with your product, service or solution, your answer is so off the mark that it might destroy your ability to succeed in sales.”

Iannarino then goes on to quote the late economist Theodore Levitt, who said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” In other words, customers are purchasing desired outcomes even if they are technically purchasing the means of creating outcomes.  Those sellers who realize what they are truly selling have a tremendous advantage over the great mass of ordinary sellers who are obsessed with products and services, features and benefits.

Among 19 meaty chapters of non-stop sales wisdom, the above quotes illustrate perfectly just how much value you’ll find in Iannarino’s The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need (Portfolio Penguin, 2016) which was just released a couple months ago.

Iannarino is an internationally acclaimed sales consultant and trainer as well as creator of one of the world’s most popular sales blogs.  In writing the book, he set out to explain why a small number of salespeople in any field are hugely successful, while the remaining common sales folk are mediocre or worse.

Some call it the “80-20” rule (and in some industries, it’s more like the “90-10” rule), but it’s essentially true – Twenty percent of sales people account for 80 percent of the business.  Everyone else is fighting over the scraps.  I certainly don’t want to dwell among the unexceptional 80 percent and hopefully you don’t either.

So, why the discrepancy among the haves and have-nots in the sales profession?  Iannarino’s answer is simple and straight forward – It’s all about the seller.  If you are in sales, you and you alone are responsible for your success and failure. In other words, you can decide to be a successful sales professional, and that decision is independent of product, service or industry.

Sales success, according to Iannarino, is not situational nor is about the market. It’s about the individual sales professional.  That leads us to a burning question: How do you make sure you’re part of the distinguished 20 percent?

The answer is divided into two parts which correspond to the two primary sections of Iannarino’s book: 1. your mindset, which includes beliefs and behaviors; 2. your skill sets.

The mindsets include self-discipline, positive attitude, competitiveness, resourcefulness, persistence and a few others. Once you thoroughly understand and adopt these mindsets, Iannarino says you can then start mastering the mechanics of selling.  Here are thoughts on just a few of his skill sets:

Closing Deals

Iannarino argues that selling effectively is all about gaining commitments.  You need to be an ethical and consultative seller while assertively asking for commitments. There are numerous mini closes in the buying process such as the commitments to devote time, to explore, to change, to build consensus, and to invest resources.  Each time you get a small commitment, you move the buyer closer to the finish line.

Prospecting

Never wait until you need to prospect as it should be something you do perpetually whether times are tough or you have so much business you can hardly keep your breath.  Regarding the art of prospecting, Iannarino says, “You can’t cram prospecting. It must be a daily discipline. Block out time every day.”  He also says, “Prospecting is a campaign, not an event. It’s a series of touches that lead to a conversation and an opportunity to meet.”

Business Acumen

In the olden days of selling, sales people got by as long as they had extensive product knowledge.  That’s becoming less important now, because so much information and so many reviews of products are available online. Innarino says today’s “dream clients” want salespeople who will partner with them and guide them to a better future.  Clients want trusted advisers.  In order to provide that kind of high-level value, you need business acumen.

How do you get business acumen?

Constantly read and study business, get mentors, play close attention to what clients say. Ultimately, you must know much more than what you sell. While this in some ways seems obvious, Iannarino says that business acumen is still rare in sales. Don’t worry so much about product knowledge that you don’t know enough big-picture stuff to help your clients truly improve their R.O.I.

In the end, successful salespeople stay ahead of their competitors in a dynamic selling environment.  Because of globalization and many other factors, Iannarino believes that selling is more difficult today than it was in the past. That’s despite all the technological advances that have made a salesperson’s just easier in other ways.

To become an elite sales professional, I highly recommend The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.

I have had the chance to talk with Iannarino on a couple occasions. His brain is packed with sales knowledge and experience. The sales world is fortunate that he finally decided to put that knowledge in a tidy, organized book that delivers amazing value.

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

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

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

4 Ways to Figure Out Exactly What Your Prospective Clients Want

By Jeff Beals

I’m at the stage in life when I’m surrounded by kiddos – my siblings, my friends and I all have kids at home. To me, it seems like kids are omnipresent. My family is a rather close-knit group and we get together fairly often. As a dad and uncle, I enjoy watching all the kids interact and build bonds with each other as they grow up and develop into the adults they will someday become.

In any group of kids there are typically a small percentage of them who are particularly gregarious. These kids are blessed with charisma, personality and are more advanced in their communication skills. They stand out. People are drawn to them.

What do adults say about such kids?

  •  “I just know he’ll grow up to be a politician!”
  • “She’ll be running a company someday!!”
  • “You should go into sales when you grow up!!!”

I get why people say such things. I’ve uttered these statements myself. But would you like to hear something that may come as a surprise?

Gregarious, outgoing people don’t automatically make good salespeople.

Sure, they’re more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may be better suited to deliver sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of sales comprises only one-third of the sales process. The other two-thirds of the process are very quiet. The majority of the sales process is comprised of researching, 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:

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…?”

Don’t Talk Too Soon

I don’t intend to sound rude, but be quiet! 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 patently obvious 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 shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

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

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

Why Do Some Sales Professionals Fear the Close?

By Jeff Beals

During a sales seminar last week, I asked the attendees a question: “What is your least favorite or most intimidating part of the sales process?”

It’s a question I commonly ask sales professionals toward the beginning of a presentation.

And regardless of industry or profession, the answers are always the same. Approximately 40 percent of the attendees are most intimidated by initial prospecting calls and another 40 percent say, “the close,” asking a prospective customer for their business. (The remaining 20 percent identify a variety of miscellaneous things).

Why do so many sales professionals dread these same two things?

There are a lot of reasons:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of failing
  • Not wanting to sound “pushy”
  • Fear of sounding stupid or ill prepared
  • Inferiority complex – about yourself, your company or your product
  • Unsure of the timing – fear of losing what appears to be a sure-fire sale if you ask for the business at the wrong time

What’s a Salesperson to Do?

Be Obsessed with Value

The most fundamental element in closing any sale is to determine what the prospective client truly values without ever assuming. The salesperson may have more product knowledge than the prospective customer but that doesn’t mean the salesperson has the ability to read clients’ minds. You need to ask probing questions and listen deeply to the answers. If you do this properly, and take the necessary amount of time, you will know just what your prospect wants. When you make your pitch, customize it to exactly what the prospect told you. Value selling does more to ensure a successful closing than anything else you can do.

Think Sequentially

Remember the old sales axiom, “ABC – Always Be Closing?” It means you’re always looking for an opportunity to jump to the end and sign up the prospect. Flush “ABC” from your mind! Sure, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the prize, but instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process. Don’t rush things. In this day and age, buyers – especially sophisticated ones – don’t take kindly to being pressured.

Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order with adequate time at each step and you will close more than your fair share of deals.

Collect Mini Closes

A sales close is basically getting the prospective client to make a commitment. The “big” close is the final commitment at the end, which is the commitment to buy. But closing also involves lots of little commitments leading up to the big commitment. These are commitments to spend time with you, to listen to you, to consider what you offer, to admit they need to make a change/purchase, etc.

Each time you convince your prospect to make a little commitment during the process, you are moving him or her a little closer to the final commitment and your goal of a signed deal.

Eventually You Have to Ask

After you do all the work leading up to the final close, it’s time to ask for the order. Unfortunately, this part can make salespeople feel nervous. After all, you have put so much effort into making the sale that you fear getting your feelings hurt and your confidence bruised. Plus, you may have already spent the commission!

Those are normal fears, but when the time is right, just ask the question! The good news is you don’t need a cheesy gimmick to seal the deal. You know what the client cares about and you know you have an ideal product solution, so all you have to say is, “Let’s get you started” or “Are you ready to do this?” Avoid clichés like the age-old one I like to make fun of: “What will it take to get you in this car today!”

In the end, the main requirement to being a good sales closer is to do the right things earlier in the process. In other words, if you do a good job of listening, building trust and doing your best to customize your products and services to the client’s needs and wants, the closing should actually be a mere formality.

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

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

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Get Glowing Testimonials from Your Current Clients

By Jeff Beals

Allow me to lift the curtain and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the world of book writing.

You know those endorsements by celebrities, other authors and industry experts that appear at the beginning of a book and on the back cover?  They are rarely written by the actual endorser. Instead, they are often written by the authors themselves or someone who works at a publishing company.

Here’s how it works:

You write a book. You feel good about it.  You understand that readers will be more apt to buy your book if respected people have endorsed it.  You make a list of industry experts and other authors who have written similar books.  You contact those respected people and ask them to write an endorsement or testimonial for your book.  If those potential endorsers know you or have heard of you, they’ll likely say “yes.”

But there’s a problem.  The endorsers are busy, which leads to a couple of scenarios: 1. They intend to read the book and write an endorsement but they never get around to it; or 2. They ask you to draft the endorsement language and send it to them for their approval.

Scenario #2 is quite common, so authors write up a proposed endorsement and email it to the big-named endorser.  If that person is comfortable with the wording, he or she will approve it, and presto! the book has an impressive endorsement.

The same thing happens every day in your industry.

As a sales professional, you need testimonials from past and current clients attesting to your outstanding service and product value.

A long list of client testimonials makes it easier to get new business. In an era of social media reviews, clients expect would-be vendors to have proof that they provide great service and high-quality products. One of the ways you show that is by providing glowing testimonials from highly satisfied clients.  Strong testimonials make you a safe choice.

But be prepared; you might have to do much of the work yourself. Just like the book-promotion world, your happy clients would love to write a testimonial for you, but they’re stressed out and short on time.

What makes a good testimonial?

  1. Make it specific to you, your product and your company.
  1. It should be obvious who the testimonial writer is and why he or she is relevant to your business.
  1. The testimonial clearly states what problem you solved and what unique value you brought. It should show that you deliver on promises, go above and beyond and get results for your clients!
  1. It should not be fluffy or overly wordy.
  1. Testimonials are particularly powerful when they show how you made someone money, made someone look good in front of other people, made someone’s life easier or reduced someone’s stress.
  1. If you have ever helped a client overcome adversity, include that in the testimonial.
  1. Testimonials should put the reader in the testimonial writer’s shoes. Readers should imagine themselves benefiting from your products and services just like the testimonial writer did.
  1. Make it positive but not obnoxiously gushing.

How do you get testimonials?

  1. Be prepared to write it yourself and ask if they would be willing to attach their name to it. Don’t offer this right away, because some people take pride in writing their own testimonials.
  1. If they do want to write it themselves, stand ready to coach and guide them. Let them know what purpose the testimonial has in your sales efforts and what messages would be particularly effective for you.
  1. Plant a seed and make it easy. Remind them of how you served them. It’s okay to ask them to highlight certain things.
  1. Think of interesting stories you have experienced with the client and suggest they highlight one of those stories as part of the testimonial.
  1. Ask existing or past clients a few questions about your products and services. If the answers are positive, you could say, “You know, it would be so helpful if my prospective customers could hear what you said. Would you consider writing a short testimonial for me that I could use in my future sales efforts?”
  1. Send clients a written survey. Some of the responses could be fodder for a strong testimonial. Of course, get their permission before you publicly quote them.
  1. Don’t be bashful! If you are confident you made the client happy, ask them to be bold and positive.
  1. Give in order to receive. Write an unsolicited testimonial for your client and then ask them to do the same for you.

In many cases, one competitor beats another because he or she has better testimonials.  I have personally witnessed it.

Gather those testimonials!

Make sure they are well written and clearly show how you provide differentiated value. Then, put them into your prospects hands.  Publish them on your website and social media platforms and hand them out as leave-behinds during sales presentations.

Clients want social proof.  Powerful testimonials get the job done.

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

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

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How Good Sales Professionals Become Great Ones

Jeff_Beals_armscrossed (2)

By Jeff Beals

The legendary John D. Rockefeller famously said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com