Tag Archives: sales motivation

Is Your Company Recruitment or Retention Focused?

By Jeff Beals

As a sales leader, you need a frank assessment of who you are and what your organization is really all about.

For instance, are you developing sales strategy for a “client-recruitment” or a “client-retention” shop? Some companies operate in industries or markets that are rich in prospective clients. Those are client-recruitment shops. Other companies exist in an environment of client scarcity. Those are client-retention shops.

Of course, you should always have a healthy respect for client retention. As the old saying goes, “It’s cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one.” That said, some businesses have more opportunity to find and attract a steady stream of new clients. You have to know where you stand and in what arena you compete.

As you prepare your sales strategy, figure out how much of an emphasis you can place on client recruitment versus client retention. Look at your business honestly. Assess your industry, your marketplace and your standing within that marketplace.  The level of competitive pressure directly influences your sales strategy.

Financial resources can also play a role in sales strategy development. If your company is young, you might not have the sales and marketing budget to match that of your competitors.  Some sales leaders work for firms that don’t allocate “enough” resources to marketing and sales support.  In such cases, every client is precious.  You better make sure your client service level is high, because you’re not one of those companies than can count on a steady flow of clients.

If you do operate in an environment of client abundance, it doesn’t mean you can be slovenly – a sales team that is lazy and takes clients for granted.  But it does mean you can take more risks and have more bargaining power in price negotiations.

So, think about your company…Are you a “client-recruitment” company or a “retention-company.”  Adjust your plan accordingly.

Truth be told, you’re probably somewhere in the middle.  Think of it as a continuum with recruitment on one far end and retention on the other.

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 Steal Your Competitor’s Clients

By Jeff Beals

Most people don’t know this, but from 2003 to 2009, I taught a commercial real estate sales-and-leasing course at my local university as an adjunct professor.  It was an upper-level course offered in the spring semester, so I typically had a lot of graduating seniors in my class.

One of my students passed her real estate licensure exam upon graduating and affiliated with a large residential brokerage company. She came from a prominent family, was active in the community and had a large network of friends. She was dismayed on two separate occasions when a family member and good friend chose NOT to use her as their real estate agent.

You see, those people had bought and sold houses before and chose to keep their former real estate agents.

Why? The agents had done a great job for them and had built relationships that were too strong for the unproven newbie to break. My former student was persistent, however. She kept prospecting and promoted her services to thousands of people. A year later, she had built plenty of professional relationships and was doing big deals.

I share this story with you to demonstrate that long-standing relationships are difficult to break. That’s why those relationships are so valuable. It’s hard to crack the bond your competitors have with their existing clients no matter how awesome your company is and how talented you are as a sales professional.

But it’s not impossible.

Here are some things you might consider if you’re trying to wiggle in between a client and your competitor:

Just One Thing

Some sales professionals have success by building a relationship with a prospective client and then asking for just a small piece of business.  You can say something like this: “I know you have a strong relationship with XYZ Company, and I respect that. They certainly do a good job.  But I know I can provide value too.  What if you gave me just one account, just one small piece of business, so I can prove myself to you?  At the same time, you spread your risk by having more than one company working on your account.”

Send a Gift

One way to get the attention of a competitor’s client is to send a strategic gift.  I like to find the newest business book on the market especially one that relates to the prospect’s business or interests.  Send a note explaining why you think the book is relevant to that person.  It sometimes helps to shrink-wrap your note and the book together, so it seems like a big deal to the recipient.  You can then call the recipient a couple days after they receive the gift.  You’ll find the recipient likely will be more interested in talking to you because you sent an impactful gift.

Read the Reviews

In some industries, clients write reviews about companies online.  Study the reviews written about your competitor.  If you see a number of negative reviews that form a pattern, you might be on to a vulnerability you can exploit to get between them and their current clients. One disclaimer to keep in mind – if a client blasts your competitor online, it could mean the client is the problem and not your competitor.  That could come back to bite your company if you take on that client.

Be Persistent

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to be in the fight for the long haul.  If you walk away immediately upon hearing that a prospective client already has a relationship with one of your competitors, you’re giving up too quickly.  Perhaps you could start a nurturing campaign in which you send compelling, value-laden emails to the prospect thus building a relationship slowly over time.  You could periodically send them valuable bits of information or advice that show you are both thinking about them and coming up with unsolicited value.  That will make you look good vis-à-vis their current provider who is likely taking the client for granted and no longer going above and beyond the call of duty.

Plant High Hurdles

Determine one or more things that you do better than any of your competitors.  Then, when you’re trying to steal away one of your competitor’s clients, set a high hurdle.  In your conversations with that client, say something like this: “Whoever provides you with this service should always do ‘X.’”  Of course, “X” is the thing you do well that you know the other company can not do.

But Don’t Do This:

There are a number of techniques you can try, but there’s one technique I don’t recommend: discounting your price.  That’s the easy way out, and it’s a short-term way of thinking.  Some sellers think they’ll win over a new client by giving them a drastic discount.  It might work, but know this – once you give a discount, the client might always expect that price.  Plus, if you discount too much, you may end up losing money.  Finally, a willingness to discount may make your project appear to be of diminished value.  If you want a good client for a long period of time, you need to earn them the old-fashioned way (by providing value) as opposed to the easy-but-temporary way (discounting).

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 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

“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 Stay Motivated in Sales

By Jeff Beals

Leading a sales team is not easy. Consider these scenarios based on true stories:

Scenario #1

Your sales team is in the running for what would be the biggest contract in company history. You invest countless staff 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 that 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?”

Scenario #2 

It’s never easy to attract an elite sales rep from a competing company despite your  non-stop recruiting efforts.  You need a couple more sales reps but at least the ones you have are good especially, your top producer, Jim.  It seems like there’s nothing Jim can’t do. Year after year, he breaks records. And he has such a great attitude!

Then one day without warning, Jim resigns to take a new sales position elsewhere.  He thanks you for being a good leader and for providing the resources he needed to succeed over the past 10 years but says he needs a change. His decision is final.  You never had a chance to make a case for him to stay.  The pit in your stomach feels terrible. You and the rest of the leadership team talk and act as if there was a death in the family.

*****

If you have been leading sales teams for any significant amount of time, these scenarios likely ring true.  While sales is not rocket science, it’s not easy.  One of the most important skills a sales leader can possess is the ability to bounce back when life punches you in the gut.

With all the emotional, high-risk/high-reward scenarios playing out each year and with so much riding on your ability to lead the sales process, how do you cope with disappointment?  How do you cope with the pressure?  How do you avoid burnout and stay motivated?

These ideas will help you keep it fresh and keep the completed deals flowing:

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 team, there would be no company.

3. Remember that character is king. Focus on people – the hopes and dreams of the clients you serve and the real needs of the team members you lead.  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.  Do you enjoy sports?  If so, you probably love competing and watching other people compete.  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.  Great leaders are resilient. Three of my favorite quotes from former British prime minister Winston Churchill will help your bolster your resilience:

  • “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
  • “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
  • “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”

6. Make it fun for both your team and yourself.  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 and employee retention.

8. And finally, as you sell today, imagine what your legacy will be years down the road.  Your work in leading a sales team literally shapes the future.  Isn’t that pretty important?

ATTENTION SALES LEADERS:

If you hold a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect resource to help you become even more successful!

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

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

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